Private education sprouts up in Zimbabwe

Private schools are sprouting up in Zimbabwe as public system struggles due to bad mismanagement by the current regime of Robert Mugabe.

“No disruption to learning” touts a newspaper ad for a new private Zimbabwean school, one of many springing up in living rooms, backyards and plots across Harare.

It’s a big selling point in a country where government schools lost an estimated 20,000 teachers in 2008, a year when students attended class only 50 days. Teachers launched a new strike on Friday, raising worries about the new school year that began just last month.

Zimbabwe’s crisis in education eased last year with the creation of a unity government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

That ended Zimbabwe’s economic freefall and halted the political unrest that saw nationwide attacks mainly against the premier’s supporters.

But government schools still struggle with up to 50 students in a class and 20 children sharing a book.

Cashing in on the situation, new private schools run by individuals, families and organisations are sprouting across the country, often inside homes, in yards and in plots designated by the municipalities, offering an alternative to parents.

Parents have no choice but to do whats in their children’s best interest, especially the way things are being run by the current power sharing government. It is surprising that in the current economic climate, especially in Zimbabwe, that the government is charging fees, which is

frustrating many parents who say they see little result for their money.

“There is an admission that in the public school system there are problems, hence they are registering more players in the education sector, some of them charging slightly above government rates,” Wellington Koke, who runs a private school in central Harare, told AFP.

With a total enrollment of 50, Koke say his school will insist on small classes unlike government schools where a teacher can have a class of 50 pupils. His school is a refurbished home.

“We have always had this idea of having well-paying pupils who are well-serviced,” Koke said.

After government abandoned the local currency one year ago, teachers and other civil servants began receiving a flat salary of 150 US dollars a month — which was a significant improvement but still too little to make ends meet.

Teachers and civil servants are clamouring for raises, sparking fears among parents that their children could lose another year in the classroom to strike action.

The only and reasonable end solution to this problem is for Mugabe to resign, or just leave the country all together. Even though i am an optimist, that won’t happen any time soon. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is the country’s only hope for any salvation. Which is unfortunate since the “bread basket of Africa” deserves better.

Here is a short press meeting of his trip last summer to Washington and the White house with President Obama.

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