Cadetship funding: Editorial Comment: Let’s prioritise our children’s education PDF Print E-mail

In farming there are certain principles that should never be violated if harvests are to be guaranteed. There should always be preparation, planting, tending the crops and finally gathering the harvest.

 

Created :15 May 2013

 

Adapted from the Herald of 15 May 2013

 

This same age-old principle can be applied to so many aspects of life since we basically reap what we sow and we can never expect to harvest anything if we sowed nothing.

If we rewind to the opening up of the Zimbabwean economy in the 1990s under the structural adjustment programme, the laying off of many workers meant a lot of families lost breadwinners leading to the introduction of social safety nets in the form of the Social Dimensions Fund and later the Basic Education Assistance Module followed by the recent cadetship programme for colleges, which replaced the revolving fund loan facility.

All these programmes were geared at ensuring that despite the economic challenges that the country faced, our underprivileged children would continue to receive an education.

However, it is quite worrying that despite the gains over the years that saw the country score highly in terms of literacy, funding for the underprivileged has declined, putting education beyond the reach of many.

How then does Zimbabwe still expect a bountiful harvest of graduates that will steer our economic turnaround without planting and nurturing the current crop that is being forced to drop out of school due to a lack of funding?

Acting Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Dr Ignatius Chombo rightly pointed out that Government’s failure to fund students on the cadetship programme spelt doom for Zimbabwe.

This was in response to concerns that the Government had failed to release funding for 54 735 students under the cadetship programme, with institutions owed US$64 million.

“This country’s economic recovery should be driven by highly skilled workers produced by higher and tertiary institutions. If we, as a country, fail to invest in higher and tertiary institutions, which produce the key drivers of economic recovery, we will have failed the nation,” said Dr Chombo.

Underfunding of the cadetship programme has seriously impacted on the operations of the higher learning institutions. We learn that last year only 10 000 out of the 50 000 applicants got funding under the cadetship programme.

The figures show us the level of need out there and the commitment of our children to securing a brighter future through being educated to be able to withstand the challenges of an increasingly competitive job market and business environment.

We call on the Minister of Finance to ensure that education is a priority, even if it means trimming some of the ministers’ perks, in view of the paucity of resources, in order to educate our children. After all, the likes of Tendai Biti who now heads the Finance Ministry, are beneficiaries of the Government’s university funding programmes.

While we urge the Government to fund our college students so that money invested in taking them through primary and secondary education does not go to waste, we would also like to call upon parents to take the responsibility of educating their children seriously.

It is quite interesting to note that many Zimbabweans have funeral policies or are members of burial societies, meaning they are conscious of the certainty of death and plan for it.

We believe it is time there is a radical mindset shift among our people towards a realisation that it is our responsibility to educate our children and that we should plan and set aside money for their higher education.

Granted, there are many cases of underprivileged students that need the Government’s assistance, and these students’ history in terms of fees payment could be traced back to their high schools. Our major concern is over the growing numbers of students needing assistance to pay at least US$300 a semester at universities, when many boarding schools charge much more than that a term.

The tendency by those who can afford to crowd out deserving cases has been noted in a number of programmes in the past and it is our hope that only deserving cases are assisted so that even the current crop of students learns from the move that they will be expected to educate their offspring in future, and start saving for college before the children are even born.

The Government has many responsibilities that include food security especially during poor seasons like this year, but if both parents and Government take their roles seriously we should be able to educate and nurture a generation that will be much greater than the present, and leave a legacy through the product of our joint investment in education.

 

 

 

 

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