The Great Lakes Research Journal

In-depth reviews of issues and challenges facing Central Africa – ISSN: 1554-0391

Richard Mugabe, current president of Zimbabwe admitted that the educational system in the country is in ruin. One of the problems being that teachers don’t receive much of a salary.

“To the teachers, it is with regret and apologies that your reward has been nothing but a mere pittance, not worthy to be called salaries at all but just allowances,” stated Mugabe.

“Quite a number of children have dropped out of school and it pains us because we had developed our system to a level that it was admired by many in Africa, if not the world,” he added.

The country’s educational system used to be the envy of the continent but, has slowly deteriorated over the years to the point where 15 students share one textbook.

A public school teacher in Zimbabwe earns $165 a month, forcing 20,000 teachers to move to greener pastures.

“Our standards have fallen,” Mugabe said. “But, of course, there is always room for improvement and the hopes that things will get better.

“Let’s keep the spirit that shows there is always optimism on the part of parents, children and government that we are moving ahead, that there is progress not regression,” he said.

If Zimbabwe is to recover from the economic collapse it has suffered over the last few decades, then they’ll have to implement major educational reforms. Every country that has been able to turn around their economic situation has been able to do so by improving their educational system.

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Jonathan Jansen, president of the University of the Free State, is out to try and integrate the university and end the racial tension that is instilled in the institution. Mr. Jansen is the first black president in the school’s 106 year history.

While the university does have diversity (60% of the students are black), but students don’t really study or live together, which makes it difficult to integrate them. Jansen wants to change this, stating “If you want to study here, then you’re going to have to learn to live together.”

One of the biggest issues is that of language. Most of the white students only know Afrikaans, while the black students know English. So classes have to be taught in one language or another, meaning it’s separating the students even more.

During his inaugural speech, Mr. Jansen said that he would attempt “open discussion on ways in which we can get every white student to learn Sesotho … and every black student to learn Afrikaans, and all our students to learn to write and speak English competently.”

Mr. Jansen is a big believer of reconciliation rather than retribution, which will be necessary to try and unite the university, as well as the nation.

This is a huge issue for South Africa, especially if it wants to continue to grow as both a country and a society. It’s pretty obvious that there are still a lot of racial tensions throughout the country, and it’s not just among older people who remember the past.

Mr. Jansen is doing great work, but it’s going to take a lot of work and time to try and bridge the two sides.

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