Timba said ZIMSEC was broke


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Jameson Timba, chairman of the Association of Trust Schools, said the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (ZIMSEC), which set and marked examinations for pupils to advance to university, was in trouble because it was broke.

The cancellation of the June exam and a delay in scoring the previous November’s exam had put in jeopardy university plans of thousands of pupils.

But this seemed only to be affecting the poor.

A United States official said those well off were paying for their children to write Cambridge exams.

This had to be paid for in foreign currency but it allowed their children to go and study abroad in the United States, Britain and Australia.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE443, THE COLLAPSE OF A ONCE SHINING EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07HARARE443

2007-05-18 10:11

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO9370

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0443/01 1381011

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 181011Z MAY 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1495

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1600

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1467

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1604

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0265

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0869

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1232

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1660

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4066

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1429

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2087

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0727

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1821

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000443

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: THE COLLAPSE OF A ONCE SHINING EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

 

 

Sensitive but unclassified – please handle accordingly.

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (U) The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) is on the verge of

collapse as a result of a continuing three- month strike by

lecturers, insufficient resources, and dilapidated

conditions. Additionally, the UZ has been wracked by

violence as security forces have attacked students protesting

university conditions and GOZ oppression. Problems with the

administration of qualifying exams for secondary students

hoping to enter the UZ have forced thousands of students to

put their plans on hold. Meanwhile, the children of elites,

including offspring of ruling party officials, escape the

failing educational system by studying abroad, mainly in the

U.S., U.K. and Australia. End Summary.

 

———————————

Lecturers Strike For Better Wages

———————————

 

2. (U) The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) campus in Harare is

barely functioning as a strike by undergraduate faculty over

paltry wages stretches into its third month and threatens to

nullify the entire academic term. Only about two weeks of

undergraduate classes have taken place since the beginning of

the term, which is set to finish at the end of May. UZ

administrators have proposed extending the term to permit

time to prepare for exams, but lecturers have balked at the

idea. As things stand now, approximately 1,000 UZ final year

students will not graduate on time.

 

3. (U) Undergraduate lecturers continue to hold out for an

acceptable pay increase. At present, the monthly net salary

of a tenured UZ lecturer is equivalent to approximately US$30

(at the unofficial parallel market rate of Z$30,000:US$1).

The Poverty Datum Line (the minimum required to meet the

needs of an average family of five) was Z$1.7 million (about

US$57 at the parallel market rate) in March. UZ

administrators recently offered an increase that would have

given faculty a net salary of approximately Z$3.8 million

(about US$126 at the parallel market rate), but the lecturers

turned it down because the new salary would not have started

until July and inflation (reliable private sector economists

estimate annualized inflation to be between 8,500 and 14,000

percent and rising rapidly) would have quickly negated the

increase.

 

———————

Violence Rocks Campus

———————

 

4. (SBU) Lecturers are not the only ones suffering on campus.

Campus and state security agents are targeting student

leaders, who have protested University conditions and GOZ

policies, for arrests and beatings. In a May 8 incident at

UZ Harare campus, Clifford Hlatshwayo, vice president of the

Student Representative Council, suffered a broken arm and

internal injuries when he was attacked in his dorm room by

several men. Hlatshwayo told poloff he was asleep in his

room when some men pounded on his door around 1:00 AM

claiming to be campus security. When he opened the door,

 

HARARE 00000443 002 OF 003

 

 

four to six men, who he suspected were state security agents,

attacked him with iron bars.

 

5. (U) On May 10, riot police broke up a meeting to plan

student elections at the UZ Harare campus by firing tear gas

and beating students. Two student leaders were arrested.

According to student representatives, one suffered a broken

arm and the other internal ear bleeding. Prosecutors

declined to file charges, but police refused to release them

until the High Court on May 15 ordered their release.

According to a May 17 press release from the UZ Student

Executive Council, as a result of the May 10 meeting the

University expelled one student and suspended eight others.

 

—————————————-

Dilapidated Conditions Fuels Frustration

—————————————-

 

6. (SBU) Conditions at the UZ Harare campus are in a total

state of disrepair, according to Hlatshwayo. Of 36 toilets

in one dorm building on campus, only three are functional.

Additionally, several floors of students at the dorm are

forced to share one or two working showers. Hlatshwayo added

that the food served at the campus cafeteria was almost

inedible. The sadza (the staple food of Zimbabwe) was

watered-down and up to 40 students typically shared one KG of

meat. He added that students, who have scrimped to pay

school fees, were growing increasing restive as the

lecturers’ strike wears on and conditions at campus worsen.

 

——————————————— —-

Cancelling Exam Gives New Meaning to Senior Slump

——————————————— —-

 

7. (U) Jameson Timba, chairman of the Association of Trust

Schools, told us that the ZIMSEC exam, required for entry

into Zimbabwe’s university system and next scheduled for

June, may be cancelled due to a lack of resources to

administer the exam. (Note. The exam is normally offered in

June and November. End Note.) Timba said that the

cancellation of the June exam and a delay in scoring last

November’s exam had put in jeopardy university plans of

thousands of students.

 

8. (U) Rebecca Zeigler-Mano, director of the Embassy’s

Education USA program, told us that the ZIMSEC problems and

the deteriorating condition of the University of Zimbabwe had

resulted in increasing numbers of students taking the

Cambridge exams, which must be paid for in foreign currency,

with the intent of studying outside the country, often in the

U.S., UK, and Australia. Many of the students that have

access to foreign currency and can afford the extra expense

of the Cambridge exams come from ZANU-PF families.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

9. (U) During the first two decades of independence the

Zimbabwe education system was considered a shining star in

Africa and the University of Zimbabwe was regarded as a

world-class institution. In fact, many of Zimbabwe’s current

political and economic elites are graduates of the

University. The quality of education, however, has suffered

 

HARARE 00000443 003 OF 003

 

 

dramatically as a result of the seven-year economic decline

and the University is struggling to survive. It is ironic

that children of the ruling elites who are responsible for

educational collapse are not affected — many are studying in

the U.S., the UK, or Australia — while their parents decry

the policies of these countries.

DELL

 

(6 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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