via Rationalise tertiary education fees – DailyNews Live 13 April 2016
HARARE – Reports that over 12 000 students have dropped out of tertiary learning institutions are an indictment on the governing party Zanu PF and if not properly addressed could lead to chaos similar to what happened in South Africa when students went on a “fees must fall” campaign strike in that country.
We are worried that the governing party — which is packed by people who benefited from the students’ loan and grant system has now decided to punish the have-nots and in the process stall or defer dreams of a generation.
Admittedly, there is nothing wrong in students paying for their education but if the fees are beyond the reach of many then it becomes a problem and, most certainly, a recipe for disaster — because a whole generation is being denied what the previous generations enjoyed.
We are happy indeed with the introduction of free education for students who will study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) as this will undoubtedly encourage students to enrol in these critical fields which have helped countries like South Korea to evolve into technological superpowers.
But does it mean that those already at tertiary institutions should not be embraced? Does it mean the present generation, which is not being spared by the economic decay, cannot benefit even if they are doing Stem-related degrees?
While we fully appreciate that government is broke and the resultant constraints in subsidising education, we believe strongly that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that all deserving students complete their education.
Why is government so ever ready to blow more than $20 million on foreign travel in less than four months but reluctant to assist needy students realise their goals? This speaks of a government with skewed priorities.
It is embarrassing that those in power have their children learning in foreign countries where facilities are world-class while those who groan under the burden of taxes have to make do with local colleges whose infrastructure is in constant decay.
Where does an orphaned person get the over $500 to pay for the tuition fees that most State-run colleges ask for? Does it mean the poor will be condemned to ignorance while the rich are indulged with choice education at expensive international institutions?
Zimbabwe is not for the rich only but for everyone and we should make sure that we have in place mechanisms to ensure that everyone who is qualified gets a chance to improve themselves at local tertiary institutions.
We hope our government takes heed and creates a win-win situation with students from underprivileged families who are dropping out of school because of steep fees.