Zimbabwe's Education And Health Systems Still In Crisis

During a presentation on the social services sector; infrastructure resuscitation and rehabilitation of education and health services in the first year of the inclusive government, Education minister David Coltart and his Health and Child Welfare counterpart Henry Madzorera said although donor response had been very positive, lack of political will among the government parties was thwarting progress.

Coltart said Zimbabwe’s  education system was still in a “free fall”, and most schools in the country were still in a “profoundly shocking” state despite various interventions since the formation of an inclusive government in 2009.

This had been worsened by the government’s failure to develop a new curriculum, forcing schools to rely on one developed over two decades ago, which was out of sync with the demands of modern education. In addition most schools did not have the textbooks to complement the curriculum.

“The situation at schools is profoundly shocking, but we are working with our partners and local communities to rehabilitate schools,” said Coltart. “There has not been comprehensive curriculum review for over two decades. Our hope is that by 2011 we would have come up with concrete areas for curriculum reform. We are currently working with experts in curriculum reform to identify areas that can be improved. Our idea is to make the curriculum more vocational. Most children come out of school with academic but useless qualifications.”

“The fact of the matter is that the education sector has been grossly neglected by successive governments, and we are now reaping the effects of that,” added Coltart.

In health, Madzorera said the situation had been worsened by erratic disbursements from treasury, which were much lower than internationally recommended standards.

“Donors are also not willing to put money into the ministry directly. The health system is still grossly under funded with about $12 per capita instead of the recommended $34 per capita,” said Madzorera.

Former government minister Fay Chung said the government should develop ways of productively using such natural resources as minerals to fund health and education.