The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has demanded that President Emmerson Mnangagwa fulfill his promise of free education made in 2017 following a major fee hike by the University of Zimbabwe.
Students at the institution now have to pay up to $500,000, or nearly $1,000 US at the prevailing interbank rate, or about half that amount using the parallel market rate.
In a recent World Remit 2022 global study, education in Zimbabwe was ranked as one of the most expensive leading to an increase in school dropouts.
The report further states that the cost of education in Zimbabwe is six times higher than the total average income of an average family.
“Mr. President, you can’t smile when working-class sons and daughters are about to drop out of college because of exorbitant fees,” said Artuz President Obert Masaraure.
“We see you imitating (former Cuban President Fidel) Castro, it’s not a bad idea, but in Cuba education is free. Why don’t you copy that too?”
In a statement, Artuz further said, “Artuz notes the recent tuition fee hikes at the University of Zimbabwe and as an organization we maintain that this is an anti-poor decision that we condemn in the strictest terms.In a country where the average civilian population If a civil servant earns the equivalent of $22,000, a public institution of higher learning cannot charge an average of $300,000 for tuition, this automatically becomes a violation of the right of the poor to quality education, as stipulated in Article 75 of the Constitution.
“We therefore hold the government to their 2017 promise for free education and also join students in demanding equalization of access to learning opportunities through fair and affordable fees that are measured against average income. average workers.
“The government has an obligation to ensure that basic social services are accessible and enjoyed by all citizens, regardless of creed, social status, status and tribe – education is no exception. We note that poor governance and corruption result in poor economic conditions that deprive the poor of access to basic social services.”
Leaders representing students in response pledged to uphold the value of education rather than see many students denied the right to an education.
“I am no longer afraid of anything, but rather courage to face everything I encounter on the way to representing my constituency. Education is no longer reserved for the children of politicians who steal from the coffers of the State, and us, children of peasants? said Allan Chipoyi, Zinasu’s presidential candidate for the upcoming student elections.
Human rights activist and student representative Takudzwa Ngadziore said the recent fee structure at the University of Zimbabwe sends a strong message to young people.
“We must unite and fight this authoritarian regime. A dysfunctional education system is detrimental to national development. School fees must come down,” Ngadziore said.
Former education minister David Coltart added: “Fee hikes show that the government is not putting parents at heart and this is reflected in a majority of poor children dropping out of universities. The government should make education a priority taking into account that in some countries in the world education is free.”
For years, the government promised free basic education, but failed to implement this policy. In May this year, Civil Service Minister Paul Mavima admitted that the government did not yet have a budget for free education, but hoped funds would soon be made available.