President’s passion pays Zim dividends

Minister Chris Mushohwe

Minister Chris Mushohwe

Herald Reporter—
PRESIDENT Mugabe’s passion for education saw him convert three offices at Zimbabwe House into classrooms to help ministers and new commanders in the defence and security forces who had left education mid-stream to join the liberation struggle to finish their studies, a Cabinet minister has revealed.

This passion saw that nascent school morph into the Presidential Scholarship Programme that has benefited over 20 000 students since 1995, and the commissioning of the Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training whose recommendations have since been adopted by some countries in southern Africa, and informs Government’s current thrust to promote the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programmes in schools and colleges.

Many illustrious people in Government benefited from the President’s educational benevolence.

In an interview with Star FM in Harare on Thursday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe said top Government officials, including some sitting judges, were beneficiaries of President Mugabe’s passion for education when he was Prime Minister in 1981.

The President was part of the teaching staff at Zimbabwe House, which included prominent figures in society— among them Dr Charles Utete, former Education Minister Dr Dzingayi Mutumbuka, academic Dr Ibbo Mandaza, former secretary for Education Mr Elijah Chanakira and Presidential spokesman Mr George Charamba among others.

The programme later morphed into the Presidential Scholarship Programme to assit underprivileged, but academically gifted children.

“The President’s passion for education, end of 1981 going into 1982 as the Prime Minister then set up a window of education for the new commanders who had taken up positions in the army, in the police, in the central intelligence organisation and prisons,” said Minister Mushohwe.

“He surrendered three of his offices at Zimbabwe House and converted them into classrooms. Many people do not know this part of President Mugabe.”

Minister Mushohwe said the programme was confidential because at the time the new commanders could not go to public schools because the security situation was unpredictable at the time.

The President, kept his programme under wraps as he did not want people to know that his commenders were in school.

“That really was done under complete secrecy, because then at the time you wouldn’t want people to know that a commander did not have sufficient education, that minister did not have sufficient education,” he said.

“The President gave them that opportunity and most of the people who went through that process have attained degrees, some even went on to get Phds.”

Minster Mushohwe said the ZimHouse school became the precursor for the presidential scholarship programme.

“This time focusing on children from very poor backgrounds, children from distressed backgrounds, children from the periphery, families living in the periphery where accessibility to education was not that obvious and especially children who are intellectually gifted but whose parents or guardians could not afford to send them to university.”

The Presidential Scholarship Programme, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015 having started in 1995, has so far benefited more than 20 000 students.

In a bid to improve the education system, President Mugabe commissioned the Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training to evaluate the problems that were affecting the education sector and proposals were made to ensure that the education system becomes relevant to the country’s socio-economic needs.

Some of the recommendations put forward by the Nziramasanga Commission include introducing a nine-year compulsory basic education (junior school) cycle for all pupils in order to cultivate habits, attitudes, interests, skills and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The commission also recommended an outcome based curriculum, which is broad based in terms of subject offering and also focuses on learning areas and employment related skills.

At senior school, the commission recommended four interlinked programmes: General (Academic) commercial or business, technical, vocational, technical colleges and trade testing to be conducted at senior school one and two.

According to President Mugabe after the country attained political independence and the revolutionary changes that emerged there from, it was necessary to inquire into the “National Education” as a whole considering the fundamental changes that had occurred in the socio-economic-political context and the sure advent of the technological and global forces of the 21st century.

Education and training was and became central to positively confronting the challenges of the new century.

At the behest of President Mugabe, now the country is pursuing the programme dubbed STEM, a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to make sure that graduates do not become employee but can also become employers and innovators.

The thrust is for the country to produce technologically savvy Zimbabweans to stir economic recovery.

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  • Gary WekuZviyambe

    “was, was, was….”
    Bragging about what you did in 1982? In Shona we say, “Matakadyakare haanyaradze mwana”. The country is in a mess and all we can say is we taught 2000 people in three classrooms in 1982?

    • Kuta Kinte

      Saka iwe the so called Gary, chakushatirisa chiyi ipapa? Kana iwewe wega wakadaro, wagwidzimbika neyi pakuti vamwe vedu vafunde? Wakapiwa nefoshoro here? Munhu mutema seni anotaura saSmith kudaro. Sorry. There is nothing we can do with the level of colonial dosage you received.

      • Gary WekuZviyambe

        Where in my statement do you find me praising our former colonisers? The truth is that our leaders have messed up and are now scrounging for any tiny scrap and claim it as a monumental achievement, including insignificant issues that happened 34 years ago! We need leaders who apply their mind to the current crises, not try and calm us with ancient stories. Yes, he gave people three offices to study, but what has happened to our education system since then? We need our country to work again, not to pride ourselves on the “days that it used to work”

      • Sexton Chiwepu

        Iwe, let him express his views without fear or intimidation. Chakurwadza chi? Uri mwana waPresident here iyewe.

      • Mina Makoti

        Newell Kinte ungadai uchitadza kuembera zviitiko vine three decades zviitiko. Kabva ibva wati maEx Combatants vasataura nenyaya dze ma basic survival needs Se chikafu, mvura, kana zvipfeko ngekuti vaizvipiwa zvese izvo panguva yehondo.

        Key term pane contribution yaGary is “Matakadya kare…. ” Ian Smith wapinda papi?

  • Londisizwe

    President Mugabe’s passion for education was no doubt inspired by western missionary influence during his early formative years. Foreign Catholic indoctrination helped shape Mugabe’s character to form the man he is today.
    Under Rhodesia and during imprisonment of the Smith regime, Mugabe was offered the inestimable opportunity to expand his knowledge and education through distant learning, acquiring numerous Degrees in the process. Such a pity President Mugabe is incapable and can’t be bothered to offer the same resources to rehabilitate 100s of thousands of prisoners with the same educational potential he took advantage of during his incarceration?

  • Nelson

    makes sense. Mamwe maminister haana kuenda kuchikoro vakasvika. yha zvava kunzwisisika

  • Brigadier Siyasutha Belamba

    On education Mugabe has no equal in Africa.Some of us just voted with our feet when the economy started falling.We could not have done this without Gushungo’s education policies.That is the truth.There are some people who could still be now village headboys but are something far much better because of Mugabe ‘s policies.Sadly it ends there :he has been a disaster in almost everything. We are the only SADC country without our own currency and the only one whose economy is in free fall

    • Mina Makoti

      Education policies, hundreds. But sustainability, zero.
      Education policy inoendeka kana ichinga iine other social policies to prop and support it. Success of an Education policy inofanira kuonekwa ngedzidzo of subsequent generations. Manje doro racho rakashate musi werabikwa….

  • bexilford

    This article should be sent to the current minister and his deputy. Children education standards are a disgrace under the present ministers. They should visit rural areas and listen to the parents. They enforce policies which are inappropriate like deploying unsuitable teachers and heads to inappropriate schools. Some schools do not have suitable facilities.

  • Muzimba

    What are the dividends

  • Bert

    Yes and where is this educated population now? A #### state funded by diaspora donations. Slow clap