Friday, October 9, 2009

Bitter struggle to learn in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is just now starting to wake up after years of bad leadership under Robert Mugabe. I found this story on BBC Africa. In it two Zimbabweans tell of their stories on “Africa Have Your Say.”

Jack, 20, unemployed, Chitungwiza
“I feel bitter that I have lost out!”
In the beginning of his story Jack tell us that Zimbabwe’s educational system used to be one the best in the Southern Africa. He was not able to go to school for the past four years because all of the teachers have gone to teach in South Africa or Botswana, where they can make more money. The students now are taught by student teachers. It has been hard on him since his father passed away and his mother does not make enough money to provide for his family. His older brother works in South Africa and is helping them with food. Before this arrangement his family had nothing and had to stand in a line for 2 hours just to get a loaf of bread. Now education is getting better but it is too expensive since Zimbabwe is now using US Dollars for its currency. Because people get around $150 a month for their salaries it is too much for them to pay $30 for the school fees. So the parents just opt out of sending their kids to school.

Pamela, 24, Accounting graduate, Chitungwiza
Pamela has completed her accounting degree in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. She feels very lucky to do so. When she was in her second year the teachers went on a strike which lasted for 3 months. There were outside lecturers that tried to fill in but because they came only on their free time they were not much help. All this time her parents still had to pay college tuition. A lot of college teachers left to find a better future in other countries. Pamela had to find her own books and was lucky to have a brother who could send them to her. She is about to graduate and has already been able to find herself a job. “It wasn't easy for me to get a job but I managed - it comes down to who you know.” Pamela believes that things are changing and “the future looks bright. For one, the money I get paid is adequate for my needs.”

Can you imagine struggling to pay your own or your child’s college fees and not get the education you were hoping for! We are so lucky to just show up in class with the teacher already waiting for us. Even in Malawi, where I live, a typical students does not have the needed text books and has to depend on reserve books at the library, where they can be checked out for only one hour at a time. I feel blessed that I am able to take my courses all the way from Malawi and the only thing I have to worry about is whether the power is going to hold up while I try to take my test!

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