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Zimbabwe - Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceZimbabwe - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


The Zimbabwean government plays a dominant role in shaping policy and administering and financing education, even though local district councils and voluntary organizations such as churches privately own the majority of schools. It assumes the primary responsibility for administering education through the Ministry of Education and Culture, which is in charge of primary and secondary education; and the Ministry of Higher Education, which is responsible for tertiary education. These ministries are complemented by the Department of National Scholarships in the President's Office. The Ministry of Education and Culture also pays teachers and allocates government school buildings, as well as instructional materials, and it appoints public and private school teachers. The ministry's support for private schools is in the form of building grants and tuition assistance that is channeled through the appropriate committees and authorities. Subject panels define a centralized curriculum.

While the majority of teachers are civil servants, private schools can hire additional teachers in order to improve the teacher-student ratios, and such practices are common, especially among the private schools that serve the children of elite whites and blacks. Administration, supervision, and staffing are decentralized on the regional, district, and local school levels. Most schools are privately owned by individuals, local government, churches, and committees and boards. The district councils administer the communal lands where the majority of Zimbabweans live and attend school.

With the exception of some teacher-training, secretarial, and commercial colleges and universities, the government runs most tertiary education institutions and it also hires and pays lecturers. Universities are autonomous, with some operating entirely on government funding, while others have a combination of government and private funding, with the government retaining substantial power and influence.

The total amount spent on education averaged 15 percent of the annual national budgets between 1980 and 1991, increasing to 17.7 percent in 1990 and 1991. This investment in education reflected the government's commitment to workforce development, as Z$1,410,224,000 (US$213,044,080) went to schools and Z$218,091,000 (US$32,947,245) went to tertiary education. With the rate determined by type of school, all secondary education institutions charge fees. In private elementary and secondary schools, parents pay building fees to supplement government building grants. Thus in addition to paying teachers' salaries, and building grants, the government also makes tuition contributions depending on grade and level of education.

In Zimbabwe, there are obvious regional disparities in personal and class income, wealth, and standard of living—all of which are related to illiteracy. The budget of the Ministry of Education and Culture increased considerably, about from Z$3.1 million in 1993-1994 to just over Z$3.3 million million in 1994-1995. The allocation for education also increased from almost Z$4.0 million in 1995-1996 to almost Z$4.5 million in 1996-1997. In total, the Ministry of Education and Culture was allocated 27.6 percent of the 1996-1997 national budget. With the inclusion of the Ministry of Higher Education, the total allocation for education amounted to nearly Z$5.5 million, or 34 percent, of expenditures in 1996-1997. In contrast the Defense Ministry received only a little more than Z$1.5 million in 1993-1994. This amount was increased to approximately Z$2.1 million in 1994-1995, and then further increased to almost Z$2.4 million in 1996-1997, representing 11 percent of national expenditures for that fiscal year.

The increase in the percentage of the national budget that was allocated to education in a given year has been somewhat reflected in the literacy rate and the index of education and human development. For example, education received just over Z$1.5 million in 1993-1994. This amount was increased to a little more than Z$2.1 million in 1994-1995, and further increased to almost Z$2.4 million a year later. At the same time, the adult literacy rate increased from 56 percent in 1970 to 86 percent in 1995. Education as percentage of gross national product increased from 6.6 percent in 1980 to 8.3 percent in 1995 in Zimbabwe. Between 1988 and 1995, the increase in secondary and technical schools was 1.7 percent of total enrollment across Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's gross enrollment ratio increased from 41 percent in 1980 to 68 percent in 1995. Generally, enrollment in natural and applied sciences in 1995 was 25 percent. It is also interesting to note that as a percentage of Zimbabwe's total workforce, the population of women in 1995 was 44 percent.

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