IT is more than two (2) years now since Zimbabwe celebrated the ushering into life of the then new supreme law of the land. It was a first of its kind; the first home grown document to see the light of the day in the independent Zimbabwe.
Attempts to have a constitution had been made before but, unfortunately, could not pass the test of a referendum as the people vehemently rejected the drafts. However, the year 2013 brought a different story as the majority of the citizens united to vote for YES. This literally pointed to the fact that the document was good to many, hence they agreed to make it the supreme law of the land which everyone is must abide to regardless of creed, colour, race, height or even political affiliation.
Much to the euphoria of the Zimbabwean students, the entire Section 75 of the National Constitution was dedicated to education and, to date, it remains a fact that education in Zimbabwe is a right. Brilliant as it sounds, and as nicely as it may be enshrined, it remains a cause for concern that, regardless of the fact that it is clearly enshrined in the Constitution, the right to education remains a pie in the sky in the present day Zimbabwe.
Education has continued to be commoditized and gradually being relegated to an issue of survival of the fittest with only a few who can afford, managing to proceed to tertiary level thereby defeating the whole aspect of it being a right but rather making it a privilege.
Tertiary education in the present day Zimbabwe has, for long, posed us with an excessive sad reality of ridiculous tuition fees being demanded by our institutions. The tuition fees demanded today are so high and it leaves a lot to be desired when one considers the sorry state of our economy.
As if this is not enough, the relevant authorities find joy in continuously and unnecessarily skyrocketing tuition fees to alarming and unjustifiable proportions. With this existing in our country without any will from the government to curb the situation, one is justified to conclude that the education system is diabolic as it has serially proved that it has successfully failed to meet the interests of the intended beneficiaries.
The perpetual increase of tuition fees in these tertiary institutions only serves us with an untainted realization that the government of the day has reached a point of failure to prioritize the critical elements of each and every nation. Looking at the Zimbabwe’s national objectives as enshrined under Chapter two (2) of the constitution one notes that section 27 clearly positions education as one of the country’s objectives yet it perplexes the mind when a national objective is not adhered to.Advertisement
It is indeed a very sad reality to note that the incumbent Zanu PF government is presiding over a failed education system and yet they remain unmoved in the face of excessive quandary which we the people of Zimbabwe have been enduring since time immemorial.
What saddens us more is the fact that most of our cabinet ministers, during their schooling days were beneficiaries of grants and loans if not free education. Surprisingly now that they are in power today, they seem to be blind on the importance of education as an integral tool for sustainable development. They are sunk in comfort while allowing the prevalence of bad systems in education; in short the normalization of the abnormal has taken center stage much to the accelerated suffering of the ordinary citizen.
Having set down and watched tuition fees making their way to the sky and witnessing other restrictive matters prevailing uncurbed, I have been made to arrive to a conclusion that the current education system is illegal for it does not in any way resonate with the constitutional provisions
The continued payment of exorbitant tuition fees in our institutions is a direct insult to the right to education and, as such, it makes the current education system which has now turned to be unaffordable clearly unconstitutional.
The continued existence of this regrettable state of affairs in our education should be restrained as soon as yesterday and, with this note, I urge the government to move out of its comfort zone and address this as a matter of urgency lest we risk becoming an illegal country by virtue of the failure to abide to the simple dictates on the supreme law of land.
Tererai Obey Sithole is a leader and human rights defender based in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org