Zim maintains high literacy rate in Africa Mr Mahonde

Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent

ZIMBABWE continues to have high literacy rates with 93,7 percent of those aged 15 and above who have completed at least grade three being classified as the literate.

The country is poised to retain its status as one of the most literate nations in the African continent.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) Zimbabwe has had a literacy rate of above 90 percent since 1992. Literacy rate is defined by the percentage of the population of a given age group that can read and write.

In 1992 the country had a literacy rate of 96 percent, in 2002 it had 97 percent and in 2012 the country had 94 percent.

Announcing the 2022 population and housing census preliminary results on education, ZimStat director-general Mr Taguma Mahonde said a total of 13 466 067 persons from the age of 4 and above attended school.

“The national literacy rate stood at 93.7 percent with urban areas having a literacy rate of 97.1 percent and rural areas 91.3 percent,” Mr Mahonde said.

“Population aged at least 15 years which had completed at least Grade 3, was classified as literate. The literacy rate by sex was 95.2 percent males and 92.4 percent females.

“Bulawayo with 98,9 percent and Harare with 97,5 percent had the highest literacy rates. In other provinces Mashonaland East had 94.4 percent, Matabeleland South 93.4 percent and Masvingo: 91.5 percent.”

Mr Mahonde said there were marginal differences in the proportions of males and females who ever attended school with males having 95.4 percent and females 93.9 percent.

He said in both urban and rural areas, females constituted the greater proportion of persons who ever attended school. Mr Mahonde said in rural areas, 51 percent of the persons who ever attended school were females while in urban areas the proportion was 53 percent. This is largely because there are more females than males in the population as a whole. Bulawayo with 97,6 percent and Harare province with 97,3 percent recorded the highest proportions of persons aged 4 and above who ever attended school, he said.

In both rural and urban areas, Mr Mahonde said the main reasons for never attending school were financial constraints, education not considered valuable, still too young, school too far away, no birth certificate and religion among others for both sexes.

“Out of 6 886 403 of the school going age group of 4 to 24 years, 71.4 percent were attending school and out of 3 387 501 males, 72.7 percent were currently attending school while out of 3 498 902 females, 70.2 percent were currently attending school.

“Of the 4 297 021 persons aged between 4 and 24 years, 72 percent were currently attending school in rural areas while 70 percent of the 2 589 382 persons in urban areas were currently attending school,” he said.

Mr Mahonde said school attendance for the population aged 4 to 24 stood at 67.3 percent at country level with primary level standing at 95.9 percent while at lower secondary, it stood at 83 percent.

“School attendance was highest in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces, with 71.6 percent and 70.6 percent attendance respectively. The proportions of children of school going age who were out of school were higher for males than females at both primary and lower secondary levels.”

He said the major fields of specialisation at tertiary level were: business, administration and law, education, engineering, manufacturing and construction.

“For males, the main field of specialisation were engineering, manufacturing and construction constituting 25.2 percent of the total. For females, education was the main field of specialisation with 27.6 percent of the total.

“A total of 663 320 persons had a tertiary qualification, with 342 975 of them being male. Across all levels, net enrolment was lower in rural areas than urban areas. Gross enrolment ratio was higher in urban areas than rural areas for lower and upper secondary levels,” Mr Mahonde said.

He said the importance of the education statistics were policy formulation and evaluation, informed planning and resource allocation and monitoring of national, regional and international obligations such as NDS1, Agenda 2063 and the sustainable development goals.

Educationists have welcomed the results saying they will help in making informed decisions by policy makers and the academia.

Ms Joelle Ayite, chief of education from Unicef congratulated Zimstats for releasing the statistics.

“I am happy to have the information and I am happy that the issue of gender is also included in the report. I look forward to using the report in my research,” she said.

Great Zimbabwe University acting pro vice chancellor Dr Eriyoti Chikodza also applauded ZimStat for successfully carrying out the exercise in line with the constitutional mandate.

“It has scientific information for planning for us as educationists. I would have expected a bit of detail explaining technical terms. I am also happy that ZimStats is going to give results on completion rates. I found the results to be quite useful and detailed,” he said.

Mr Moses Mukabeta, national professional officer of Unesco’s education sector also commended ZimStats for releasing the results.

“This is making the information handy to policy makers and the academia. I am happy that our figures are increasing especially in the ECD (Early Childhood development) and this is commendable and important but we still want to push it up so that children get to primary school with basic learning.”

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