Guest column: Cliff Chiduku
LAST week, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira made a startling revelation in as far as the Zimbabwean education system is concerned.
Speaking at a Zanu PF meeting in Masvingo, Murwira criticised Zimbabwe’s higher education system, claiming it was producing more of fools than thinkers.
“We should know that every person born of a woman is born ignorant, but not foolish or stupid. So where does stupidity and foolishness come from? Fools come from the education system. The type of education that tells them that in order to do engineering you have to study English first.
“Our ancestors never learned English, but we have our Great Zimbabwe monument. That kind of engineering remains a marvel even to date. Our education system is teaching people to read and write, but is doing little to teach them to think. This is why you see a lot of people fighting on WhatsApp because they mastered the skill of writing and reading, but not thinking,” Murwira said.
While this may sound like an insult to Zimbabweans, especially coming from our leaders, whose mandate is to transform the education system, this was frank of Murwira. The minister should be applauded for not mincing his words.
This could be the reason why most of our leaders shun local educational institutions, preferring to send their children to foreign universities where they know they will get the best out of their children. They don’t want to hear anything Zimbabwean as they quickly fly to foreign lands to seek medical attention even after a bout of flu.
In 1962, the colonial government had an inquiry into its education system where it came up with “African education only” meant to “brainwash” natives and is still in use today.
The Nziramasanga Commission report — a diagnosis of the problems affecting the local education sector — has largely been ignored because someone in government is benefiting from the stupidity injected into our veins by our education system. Our rulers would want us to remain foolish so that they continue to plunder what is left of the country’s resources.
Our education system was crafted during the colonial era and served a different purpose, so it needs deconstruction.
Education and training should be central in confronting our challenges, but it is being used to blindfold us. We are victims of circumstances. Is it not stupidity that Zimbabweans remained quiet despite revelations that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga used the military to settle a domestic issue with his estranged wife Marry?
At one point Chiwenga received a luxury car from Sakunda Holdings boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei to use in supervising Command Agriculture activities and we all saw nothing wrong with it.
This week, Zanu PF youth league leaders Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenegamu exhibited their stupidity when they addressed a Press conference, where they announced that Tagwirei was sabotaging the economy. Wait a moment comrades! Does Tagwirei award himself government tenders? Certainly, no. Someone in the Zanu PF government is doing the bidding for the fuel magnet. Tagwirei travels with the President; buys luxury cars for top government officials, sponsors Zanu PF programmes, so who is the problem here? The two goons were barking up the wrong tree.
We have also given Finance minister Mthuli Ncube a blank cheque to experiment with our economy and the consequences are there for everyone to see. The economy is heading south, inflation is running away, unemployment has reached an all-time high and more than half the population is facing hunger, thanks to Mthulinomics.
It is out of sheer stupidity that we expect Zanu PF to fight corruption when the party’s highest decision-making organ — politburo — has the guts to suspend Matutu and Tsenengamu on charges of not following laid down procedures in fighting corruption. What the hack? The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) should be investigated for corruption. Engaging in catch and release is corruption in itself.
Corruption has reached alarming levels and Zimbabwe is desperate, so there is no need to follow procedure in fighting graft — any gun should shoot.
It is unfortunate now that fools — products of our education system — occupy critical positions in our country even in Cabinet — no wonder the economy is tanking. Our politics sometimes gets very absurd and ludicrous. One would fail to comprehend the motive behind such crazy antics. In 2007, several Cabinet ministers, among them Kembo Mohadi (now Vice-President), Sydney Sekeramayi and Didymus Mutasa, were taken for fools by a self-proclaimed spirit medium, Rotina Mavhunga, who convinced them that refined diesel was oozing from a rock in Chinhoyi. They paid two head of cattle, three buffaloes and ZWL$5 billion to Mavhunga for her services.
Time is now to ask ourselves if our education system is serving its purpose. We have an educated populace, which is failing to demand accountability from its leaders. Imagine that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is butchering the Constitution and an imperial presidency is looming.
Our education system is teaching us to be employees, not employers. There is need to deconstruct this colonial system being perpetuated by our government. It goes down to Zimsec’s grade inflation as pointed out by former Deputy Prime Minister Authur Mutambara. Now is the time to discontinue and deviate from toeing the line of our colonial masters, otherwise stupidity will follow us to the third generation.
We have seen most of our university and college graduates demanding jobs, yet they should be at the forefront of creating jobs and becoming employers. It is because our education system is crafted to create fools whose minds have been fashioned to work for others — perpetuating the boss mentality.
Drugs have run out of stock at our hospitals, but we have chemical engineering graduates sitting at home, saying there are no jobs. To address all these problems is a job on its own.
The country is importing everything, including toothpicks from China, when we have timber forests that are lying idle in Manicaland.
As long as our education system dishes out professors, who leave for greener pastures only to perform menial jobs in foreign lands, we will remain a country of educated fools.
As long as government continues on this destructive path, churning out thousands of fools every year, we are condemning future generations to hewers of wood and drawers of water.
Food for thought!
Cliff Chiduku is a journalist who writes here in his personal capacity. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org