|Distance Education in Engineering for Developing Countries - Education Research Paper No. 13 (DFID, 1995, 102 p.)|
|Zimbabwe: A country report|
Report on visit 26 August - 1 September 1994
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country of 309.8 thousand sq. km. with a population of approximately 10.4 million (1992 estimate) which includes some 90,000 Europeans.(1) The ethnic distribution is about 77% Shona, 18% Ndebele and 5% others. The official languages are English, Shona and Ndebele.(2)
About 70% of the population live in rural communities, the remainder in the urban areas mostly in the vicinity of the two major cities, Harare (over 1 million) and Bulawayo (over 0.5 million).(3) Other major cities are Chitungwiza, Gweru and Mutare. Average population growth is estimated at 2.9-3.6% (since independence in 1980). The population growth in the cities is estimated to be between 5 and 7% per annum, which is putting a severe strain on the amenities and creating social problems.(4)
The Government is attempting to tackle the population growth rate, making more resources available for family planning in both urban and rural areas and is reported to be foremost in Africa in this field. It also plans to control the growth of the urban populations by developing rural areas, decentralising industrial development and by setting up projects which will generate employment in the rural areas.(4) Significantly, nearly half of the population is under 15 years of age.
1.2 Political stability
Following the civil war which ended in 1979 with the demise of white Rhodesia, Robert Mugabe's ZANU (PF) party won overwhelmingly in the 1980 general elections. He formed the first government of Zimbabwe which became independent in April 1980. Mugabe became the first Executive President in 1987 and has retained the post ever since. Multiparty elections are held every five years, with the next one due in 1995.
2.0 ECONOMIC BACKGROUND
Zimbabwe's economy has a broad base. Indeed, outside South Africa, Zimbabwe has the largest industrial base in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a diversified manufacturing base and a strong mineral and agricultural resource base. The infrastructure is comprehensive with substantial networks of road, rail, air and telecommunications. Its work force is one of the best educated on the African Continent.
Zimbabwe's education system benefited significantly from social changes introduced to reflect the new political situation immediately after independence in 1980. Education and also health were given particular attention and are widely acclaimed as successes amongst the population. Primary school enrolments almost tripled between 1980 and 1990, while the secondary schools expanded tenfold. There were also huge increases in tertiary education.(5)
The business community, although proud of these reforms, argue for similar investment into the industrial base.
The goal with regard to health is that no one should have to walk more than 10 km to reach a clinic. Enormous strides have been made in the health sector, going a long way towards meeting this goal.
The economy expanded following independence, but serious economic structural problems emerged during the 1980s. Export commodity prices and inflation both rose and the government found itself burdened with foreign debts and large budget deficits. Imports were limited; there was very little foreign investment and Zimbabwean industrialists found it virtually impossible to obtain foreign exchange (forex). This period culminated in President Mugabe announcing a dramatic policy shift towards a market economy in 1989.(3)
2.1 Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP)
October 1990 saw the introduction of the IMF-World Bank approved Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). This aims to achieve, over a five year period, an average economic growth rate of 5% by means of fiscal and monetary reform, trade liberalisation, deregulation and control of the economy.(3)
The implementation of the programme was badly affected in 1992 by the country's worst drought this century. The drought, the transitional effects of ESAP and the world recession caused real incomes to fall by about 10% in 1992(3), and led to extreme dissatisfaction with the reforms amongst large sections of the people. The Government is, however, determined to press ahead with the plan, and the chances of success are rated high due to the strength of the country's industrial base.(5) The foreign exchange restrictions were lifted in January 1994 and business confidence has improved. The emphasis is now on exports and competitiveness, and inflation is falling, albeit slowly.(3)
2.2 South Africa
The de-regulation policy has opened up Zimbabwe as a market for other countries, thus increasing the need for local industry to be competitive. Industrialists recognise this acutely. They also recognise the need for training in order to compete effectively. South Africa is the major immediate competitor with something like a 10:1 competitive advantage in terms of production capability and economy of scale. The view of some industrialists is that they will be increasingly dependent upon the internal market. Although Zimbabwe has opened up its economy, it is still at a disadvantage regarding exports to South Africa, as the latter has retained protective import tariffs. Current negotiations may however change this unequal cross border trade.
In the view of President Mugabe, the future of the region lies with SADC (the Southern African Development Community). The priorities of SADC are:
· the establishment of better transport and communications infrastructures
· improving the technical and management skills in its members' public and private sectors
· harmonising cross border customs and tariff formalities and standardising documentation.
The Executive Secretary, Dr Mbuende, believes that the development of the region lies in investment and trade, not aid and assistance. He also sees the private sector, not governments, as the engine for growth in the region.(7)
South Africa has recently become a member of SADC with an enormous role to play, given its resources and level of economic development. There is already co-operation between the two countries in energy and transport, and President Mugabe envisages adding to this in fields such as tourism and education and,
'especially in the area of distance education where
South Africa is vested with a wealth of
2.4 Economic indicators
In May 1994, inflation stood at 25.1 % - as opposed to 49.1 % in August 1992(1), with the yearly average estimated at 27%(3). By December 1994 this had fallen to just under 21%.
· Interest rates
Interest rates have fallen from a high of 40% to below 30% (May 94) with a further drop anticipated, but the high cost of borrowing remains a constraint(3)
· Exchange rate
The Zim. dollar has depreciated by over 70% since 1991. When combined with high interest rates and despite forex now being more easily available, this means that companies often cannot afford to borrow to finance expansion
This is estimated at over 30%, although it is difficult to establish a precise figure. Many more school leavers enter the job market (200,000 per annum) than find jobs: the estimate of new jobs per annum is 30,000-50,000 in the formal sector
· Medium term outlook
GDP is projected to grow by 5% p.a. in 1994-96 with inflation declining to 15% in 1994 and to 8% or less in 1995(3). However, the medium term outlook is seen to be encouraging
2.5 Gross domestic product
1992 figures give GDP as US$5.15 billion (US$500 per capita) with a real growth rate of 2.0% (1993) following a rate of -0.8% during the 1980s.(3)
GDP by major sectors (June 1994) is as follows:
2.6 1993-1995 budgets
The 1993/94 budget included several features relevant to the project:
· Recognition of the role SMEs can play in the economy
· Education was by far the biggest recipient of recurrent budget (33% of expenditure, an increase of 15%)
· Acceptance that the objective of developing infrastructure for the public sector investment programme may not be realised immediately. Water and agriculture were given the highest priority(3).
The 1994/1995 budget focused on enhancing export competitiveness and investment and offered several incentives to the manufacturing industry, but education and culture were again given the largest allocation followed by defence.(7)
Zimbabwe's main imports are:
· manufactured goods
· machinery and transport equipment.
Imports from the UK include specialised machinery and transport equipment, road vehicles and general industrial machinery.(9)
2.8 Socio-economic aspects
Many people have seen their standard of living drop since 1990. The poor in particular are worse off: in 1993, wage increases averaged less than inflation and average real wages have fallen by one third since 1990 with per capita incomes at a 15 year low.(10) Much of this is blamed upon the ESAP, and donors have recognised the need to protect the poor from transitional hardship or the programme will not be sustainable.(3)
Small businesses in particular are suffering. Although this is the fastest growing sector of the labour market, many first time ventures are failing within a year of starting up.(11)
2.9 The brain drain
According to the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre as many as 15,000 skilled people have left Zimbabwe since 1980. The emigration has increased since the introduction of ESAP and is attributed to the fall in real wages, overwork and the lack of support infrastructure. The exodus is especially noticeable in the sectors of health, education, engineering and technical services, with qualified personnel leaving for South Africa, Botswana and the private sector. As a result, staffing levels in government and municipal engineering departments have often fallen below 50%, and public construction projects have frequently been delayed. There is also an exodus of university lecturers, vocational trainers and government researchers.
An OECD study, Business Development with New and Emerging Technology in the Resource Industries of Southern Africa, concluded that more efficient management and better working conditions would be more influential than high salaries alone in cultivating and retaining a skilled workforce. The study indicates that certain sectors in Zimbabwe such as mining and agricultural services might serve as models of indigenous skills and technology developments due to their efficient management, forward looking investment schemes and production know-how.(12)
3.0 MAJOR INDUSTRIAL SECTORS
In economic terms agriculture is smaller than the manufacturing sector, but in socio-economic terms it is the backbone of the country's economy and provides the basic means of support for around 70% of the population. It accounts for 15% of GDP. It is an efficient sector and generates close to 50% of foreign exchange earnings.(7)
Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa to be self-sufficient in food production producing sufficient surplus in normal (non-drought) years to allow for export of tobacco, cotton, maize, sugar, tea, coffee and beef. Zimbabwe is the world's third largest producer of tobacco and this is the major export earner, with maize the largest cereal crop together with wheat, sorghum, millet and barley.³
Agriculture is an area in which Zimbabwe and South Africa are very similar. In opening the 1994 Harare Agricultural Show, President Nelson Mandela said:
'Our basic challenge in the field of agriculture is
to develop rural communities in order to enhance household incomes, national
food security and broadly to improve the quality of life in a sustainable
The President also noted that in the field of research,
'The advanced technology available needs to be
adapted to suit local conditions, meet community needs and make creative use of
latent indigenous information and
Horticulture is a fast growing area with 63% of fruit and vegetables going to the UK, and 70% of cut flowers going to the Netherlands for auction. Indeed, some traditional beef farmers are now creating more profit from horticulture than cattle. The industry has the particular advantage of offering high employment opportunities especially to women.(6)
3.2 Land reforms
Land is an emotional issue and a major source of contention in Zimbabwe. The government is currently trying to redistribute land farmed by white farmers to the black majority. White farmers are challenging the legality of this, and the 1992 Land Acquisition Act is becoming very unpopular, especially in the business sector where there are concerns that compulsory land acquisition will frighten off foreign investors.
There is a belief that much of Africa's underdevelopment is due, at least partially, to the fact that land is not treated as an economic asset, but rather as a social and political resource: the view is that there should be private ownership of land in the peasant farming sector. Zimbabwean agriculturists feel however that a system of land tenure can only be sustainable if it rests on agricultural growth, employment creation and ensuring food supplies in rural areas.(7)
The Zimbabwe manufacturing sector is well-developed and highly integrated with the rest of the economy. It is the largest contributor to GDP and is the most productive sector in terms of output. It is expected to spearhead economic growth under ESAP and is predicted to grow at 5.8% p.a. It accounts for about 17% of formal employment and 39% of total export earnings(13)
Much of the industry is privately owned, but a great deal is dependent on the publicly owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO). At the time of the visit two out of four ZISCO furnaces were out of production awaiting relining. The Government is, however, committed to supporting (a perhaps slimmed down) ZISCO.(3)
The major industrial sectors relevant to the project are:
· car assembly
· construction (including the manufacture of building materials)
· engineering (centred round Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru and Kwekwe)
· metals and metal products(2).
Historically, there is no electronics industry due to the lack of training, although printed circuit boards are manufactured in Harare. Much of the manufacturing is centred upon Bulawayo which has a greater capacity than Harare for heavy engineering. Solar equipment is also manufactured in Zimbabwe - the only country apart from South Africa to do so within SADC.
Industry has been considerably constrained by the lack of foreign exchange to purchase capital goods, spare parts and semi-processed inputs, particularly chemicals, plastics and steel plate. Much of the industrial plant and equipment is therefore out of date. However the Government has targeted manufacturing for priority treatment under the trade liberalisation, policy.
ESAP has forced many companies to streamline and rationalise, thus improving working practices in areas such as cash management, reduction in stock, better packaging and marketing and updated technology, but the non-export sector has been particularly hard-hit.(3)
There is considerable in-country self-sufficiency in components, although because much of manufacturing production is for home use or for export within the SADC, manufactured goods have a distinctly appropriate technology' emphasis: water pumps for boreholes, irrigation machinery, automated gold-panning equipment, fruit washing machinery, solar systems etc. The major items requiring importation include rolling bearings and sheet - steel there is no steel sheet rolling mill in Zimbabwe. Indeed the manufacturing sector is a net importer, especially with regard to capital goods, steel, aluminium and alloy steel sheets, plates, sections, chemical intermediates and petroleum products.(4)
The Government acknowledges that there is a shortage of skilled manpower in the sector and that, while there are plans to train personnel in-country and abroad, expatriate experts will in the meantime be employed in the field of new and high technology industries.(4)
3.4 Future of manufacturing
Several interviewees strongly felt that there was a need to create wealth in the country, and that one way to do that would be to make it easier to start new industries in the manufacturing sector.
Industrialists found it difficult to predict, however, whether the manufacturing base would grow, or whether Zimbabwe would become an agency for another country's products. It was acknowledged that the engineering sector would find it difficult to be competitive and that it was particularly difficult for companies to compete on small commodities which could be easily moved around. Production has to be improved and a huge investment will be required to modernise the manufacturing structures, otherwise industry will find it difficult to export and to sustain internal markets.
There is also pressure to improve the manufacturing industries to provide jobs for the growing population, to provide income to consumers and to improve the standard of living.
In the car industry it was felt that the future would lie in increased local assembly, but that the problem surrounding local components was one of quality and continuity of supply.
Zimbabwe is rich in mineral resources including gold, chrome, asbestos, nickel, copper and tin. There are also significant coal reserves used primarily for power generation and mineral processing.(3) Mining is a major contributor to the economy and together with steel and ferro-chrome production provides about 44% of Zimbabwe's export earnings. Gold generates the most income. Mining produces more than 40 different metals and materials, creating direct employment for 55,000 workers and indirect employment for many more. Anglo-American, RTZ, Lonrho and Cluff Minerals dominate the industry.(3)
In August 1994, approval was granted for the Hartley Platinum project, the largest single mining development ever undertaken in Zimbabwe and expected to require an investment of Zim$1.8 billion (£150 million). The project could make Zimbabwe the second largest platinum producer in the world after South Africa. Production is set to begin in 1996. Training requirements are likely to be significant as there has been no previous platinum industry: over 2,000 expatriates will be required to meet the needs of the project.(11)
The main energy source is in the form of firewood (39%) followed by coal, petroleum based fuels and then electricity at about 14%. Virtually all of Zimbabwe's hydroelectric power comes from the Kariba Dam. The other main source of electricity is the thermal power station at Hwangi colliery. (There are three other smaller coal fired power stations at Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare. Upgrading of these has commenced to meet peak winter demand.) The 1992 drought caused the government to reconsider the emphasis on hydroelectricity and to augment thermal generating capacity instead. Currently, 20% of the country's electricity is imported.(4)
While petroleum based fuels are also imported, the consumption of firewood is causing ecological deterioration due to deforestation.
Given the above problems the Government has been seeking alternative forms of energy and more efficient processes, for example:
· the production and use of binges (which use cow dung as fuel)
· solar energy for heat and for conversion into electricity
· fuel efficient stoves designed for both coal and wood(4).
4.0 OTHER SECTORS
4.1 Post office and telecommunications
There is a huge demand for telecommunications in Zimbabwe. The communications services, run by the Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC), have been under strain to meet the present, fast expanding demand, and in the view of one interviewee, the whole phone system needs to be overhauled. The aim now is to modernise the network, for example, introducing fax services in all major centres. Cellular systems are currently being considered. The PTC operates many of its own training programmes: it established the Belvedere and Gweru Training Centres where personnel take courses in, for example, sales and services, and telecommunications technology. These institutions provide most of the training, but the PTC also buys in training either sending personnel abroad or hiring expatriates specialising in new and specific techniques. Such courses are generally for telecom technicians and mechanics and draughtsmen. Training is also given, both in Harare and abroad, to graduate engineers, pre- and in-service technicians and telecom workers. The intake of trainee technicians doubled in the 1980s.(4)
4.2 Computerisation and electronic media
Computerisation has not really taken place in Zimbabwe as a whole, although efforts are being made to 'kick start' computer literacy. Evidently the population in the urban areas is more computer literate than the rural population. According to the Second National Plan,
'the goal to provide formal and informal
education...through the electronic media to the majority of the population has
not been achieved.'
It is therefore planned to pursue similar development activities until 1995, including the development of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the replacement of obsolete equipment.(4)
This is a fast growing sector of the economy and is now a large foreign currency earner. In 1993 there were some 750,000 visitors to Zimbabwe. Nearly 50% of these were from South Africa. The industry has the potential to expand and create more jobs in the country, and it is hoped that indigenous entrepreneurs will exploit opportunities in this market.(4)
5.0 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
Among developing nations Zimbabwe is reputedly well ahead in dealing with environmental issues. There is, however, environmental degradation in certain areas of the country due to:
· mismanagement of the environment and rapid population growth
· unplanned and illegal settlements
· unplanned gold panning which has expanded uncontrollably in recent years
· implementation of development projects without environmental impact assessment(15).
There are also distinct environmental problems related to irrigation development: soil erosion, siltation, water pollution and the ecological impacts. Many of the rivers dry up for a few months each year as a result of lack of storage and siltation.(15)
The National Action Programme on Water and Sustainable Agricultural Development has recommended training in the environmental field, particularly for the Water Pollution Section of the Department of Water Development, as well as training on Environmental Impact Assessment techniques.(15)
Zimbabwe's climate is semi-arid, and the continuity of the water supply is often a major problem. There are no natural lakes and the utilisation of the scarce supplies of surface water is not well developed. Most water supplies are collected in dams. The Kariba Dam on the Zambezi is the largest.(2)
According to the Second Five Year National Development Plan, there will be emphasis on the programme to eradicate poverty in rural areas, in which water development programmes will play a vital role. Distinct organisations are already active in the field: for example, Mvuramanzi Trust, an NGO implementing the upgrading of rural family water wells, other family programmes and building naturally ventilated pit latrines.
Economic growth and the growth of the urban population have overstretched the urban water supply systems so that water supplies have had to be restricted, especially in Bulawayo where investigations are underway to tap water from the Zambezi River and pump it up to Mashonaland dry areas nearly 300 kilometres away. The Plan therefore includes the construction of more dams, irrigation systems, water supply schemes, boreholes and wells. It also proposes to train inhabitants in communal and resettlement areas to repair and maintain the water supply equipment and to involve them in the operation of water supply schemes.(4)
Crops in Zimbabwe are generally produced under rain-fed conditions. Given the recurrence of droughts, however, irrigation will play a more important role in the future. It is estimated that there is the potential for irrigated agriculture in the country, but that the development of irrigation will need to be well planned and viable from a technical, social, economic and environmental point of view.(15)
Water application technology and water management practices need improving in Zimbabwe. There is also a need for intensive technical training of the Agricultural Extension Workers in irrigation. Within the key institutions involved in water resources development, irrigation and environmental protection, the National Action Programme has identified a need for training at all levels, from technical staff to administrators, extension workers and farmers.(15)
The National Action Programme recommended amongst its objectives:
· the strengthening of post-graduate training in-country, particularly at MSc level, in irrigation engineering and water management
· the enhancing of the technical capacity of professionals especially in the field of irrigation, water resources development and environmental protection.(15)
The cost for the above training was estimated in the Action Programme at US$480,000.
6.0 WOMEN IN ZIMBABWE
According to Ruth Meena (Sapem, July 1992), most of the development plans and policies of African states have been 'gender blind'.(16)
While many African states acknowledge the need for human resources development, this is usually biased towards men: women generally retain their traditional roles, providing the bulk of agricultural labour, assuring food security and taking on the normal social reproductive tasks. Polygamy still exists in many parts of the continent, including Zimbabwe. On the face of it, women are better off in Zimbabwe than in many other parts of Africa: in the 1980s there were only 5% fewer girls than boys in primary education (5), and there has been a strong commitment from the Government to equal rights.(15) When it comes to tertiary education however, women make up only 25% of the university population and there are correspondingly few women managers, intellectuals and politicians.(16) The University of Zimbabwe has recently initiated a policy in the 'affirmative action' by adding two points to women's 'A' level results to help them be accepted as undergraduates.
This lack of education is reflected in the positions which women hold at work. They constitute about 28% of the workforce in the formal sector although they make up over 50% of the population. The positions they hold are generally in service occupations. Only 1.3% of women workers are in the administrative and managerial field.(5)
'Black Zimbabwean women... feel that though the
environment is changing for the better, a lot still needs to be
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) report specifically indicated that funding was needed,
'to enable more women to be employed and to create
a greater gender equity in employment... Serious attention needs to be given to
the low employment rate of women in all sectors of the economy, but particularly
the formal sector. Donor agencies should consider setting gender quotas in all
their funding of education and training but particularly if they decide to
support credit facilities and training for the development of SSE (Small Scale
Enterprises) and expansion of the informal
In the Ministry of Political Affairs, there is the Department of Women's Affairs which focuses on training needs in both the urban and rural communities through two training Centres: the Roger Howman Training Centre in Masvingo and the National Training Centre for Rural Women in Melfort. In the NGO Ranche House College, there is the Women's Leadership Development Training course. There is also a Community and Womens' Education training programme run by the Ministry of Community and Cooperative Development. This particular programme has received help from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).(5)
Other donor organisations which have been active in Zimbabwe include UNESCO, HIVOS (the Humanistic Institution for Co-operation with Developing Countries), UNICEF, CUSO (Canadian Universities Services Overseas) and DANIDA (the Danish Volunteer Service).(5)
While there is evidently training on offer, it is difficult to ascertain how many women it is reaching and how effective it is in improving living conditions for them. In many cases, rural women have retained their traditional roles despite indications that they work well in certain areas such as agriculture and horticulture.
There is therefore a strong case for furthering the training and education of women.
AIDS is endemic in Africa: there are more than 1.5 million AIDS cases on the continent and it is estimated that some 10 million Africans are HIV positive out of a world total of 14 million.(7)
In spite of extensive anti-AIDS information in the media, the disease appears to be growing rapidly within the country to the increasing concern to industry and Government. President Mugabe draws attention to it in the Second National Development Plan, intimating that it is 'spreading at an alarming rate':
'The effects of this plague could eliminate all
gains, actual and potential, in socio-economic development unless we take the
necessary steps to control or eliminate the
Despite the media coverage, there seems to be little public discussion of the disease and, according to one of those interviewed when explaining the public attitude,
'People either die of a 'short disease' or a 'long
disease'. They don't die of AIDS.'
Yet the figures are frightening: in one company three workers (out of a total of some 500) died in one month alone, in another 200 out of the workforce of 3,000 died of AIDS last year. Those affected are generally at middle management level, up and coming executives aged 20-35. An alarming number of degrees are awarded, by the universities, posthumously. There are unconfirmed reports that the Army and Police are 80% HIV positive.
The AIDS epidemic will obviously have serious repercussions for the Zimbabwean economy. Companies acknowledge that people will be lost, that there will be a shortage of manpower and that there will be a need to retrain. One company believes this to such an extent that it is considering introducing automated manufacturing in the next few years simply to deal with the projected lack of manpower.
8.0 THE EDUCATION SYSTEM
The Ministry of Education is responsible for education at primary and secondary levels, while the Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for Harare Polytechnic, Bulawayo Polytechnic and the Technical Colleges. It shares the responsibility for the University of Zimbabwe (Harare) and the National University of Science and Technology (Bulawayo).
8.2 Background information
Government spending on education remains very high - the country spends 10% of its GDP on education, the highest ratio in the world, and huge strides have been made since 1980 (potentially at the expense of industry and infrastructure which have not benefited from similar investment).
Since 1980, Zimbabwe has achieved nearly universal primary education and extremely high numbers in secondary school. There are approximately 700,000 secondary school students in some 1,500 schools throughout the country.(4)
According to the CIDA Report however, two problems have arisen from the rapid expansion.
· The quality of education has declined.
· There is not enough employment for the graduates of the educational system as the investments in education have not been accompanied by equal investments in the economy. The report suggests: 'education per se will not further economic development'(5).
In an attempt to deal with the rising unemployment, the Government introduced technical subjects into the secondary school curriculum in addition to the post school vocational and technical training. There was, however, a severe lack of qualified and experienced teachers to offer such subjects in the schools.(4) This in turn led to a need for increased teacher training, especially in subjects necessary for industrial development: mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology.
8.3 Teacher training
Between 1980 and 1986, the number of trained teachers in Zimbabwe increased by over 50%. However, due to the increase of teachers recruited to provide increased educational opportunities, the proportion of trained teachers in the system dropped from 72% to 54%. In some parts of the country it was common to find untrained teachers dealing with classes of more than 40 students.
It was also found that teachers who had been through the Zimbabwe Integrated Teacher Education Course (ZINTEC) were getting better examination results from their pupils than other teachers. The ZINTEC course comprised a 16 week residential period following which the trainee teachers taught in schools whilst undertaking supervised distance education courses. This programme lasts for more than three years.(5)
The shortage of good lecturers and teachers in schools, colleges and universities also occurs because of the poor conditions of service and remuneration: one interviewee said that lecturers were so badly paid they could earn more as a plumber.
The National Plan also acknowledges that accommodation for teaching and learning, especially in the rural areas, was poor and inadequate.(4)
In an attempt to rectify this situation, the Government has reintroduced school fees for both primary and secondary school education, an extremely unpopular move, especially as the 'O' level examination fees alone are allegedly equal to two months average salary.
8.4 Technical and vocational education
There are three training centres in the country: Masasa in Harare, Westgate in Bulawayo and the Institute of Technology (formerly the Belvedere National Vocational Training Centre). The main fields covered are: automotive electrics, motor mechanics, fitting, turning, fabrication, carpentry and technical drawing.
Between 1980 and 1990 enrolment in the colleges increased by 172% as the government sought to address the shortage of technicians. However, this was not reflected in the numbers enrolling for engineering disciplines:
The major leaps came in areas such as Business Education (58% increase) and Computer Studies (1,462% increase).(4)
8.5 Tertiary level technical training
The Polytechnics came in for severe criticism from many of those who participated in the research. The most common complaints were that there were few competent staff and that the equipment and library materials were more or less obsolete. Industry did not see the Polytechnics as matching their needs, and the resources were not there to improve them.
There are circa 7,500 students enrolled in Harare Polytechnic, which has faculties of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and Surveying. There are 5,200 students in Bulawayo Polytechnic, 2,000 of them apprentices in engineering. The all inclusive cost per annum of keeping a student in a Polytechnic is Zim$6,000 (about £483).
There are further technical colleges in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Kushinga, Phikela, Masvingo and Mutare.
Virtually every person interviewed felt that there was a need for training at the technician level, especially as there are not many institutions that offer higher national programmes. It is perceived that there will be a need for more mechanical technicians and that the focus should be on manufacturing engineering.
8.6 Apprentice training
The average annual intake of apprentices in 1989 and 1990 was 1100. The intake in industries relevant to the project were as follows:
The apprenticeship scheme, like the draughtsman scheme, is formalised and takes four years at artisan level. In the view of several of the informants there is no need for training at this level as it is already well covered. There is a problem, however, as the form of apprenticeship training has been recently changed, offering more theory than practical training: a system which is not welcomed by industrialists.
Indeed, it was pointed out that the skilled artisan has been lost across the sectors. NRZ (National Railways of Zimbabwe) conducted a survey amongst their workers in 1993 which indicated 70% of the workers have only three years post training experience and that many trained people have left the company. It is calculated that it will take a generation to replace those skills.
9.0 UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
The university sector is underfunded due to the emphasis of funds for the primary and secondary school sector to deal with the growing youth population. Given the lack of resources, universities are unable to deal with the bottleneck created in the education system among 18 year olds. Every year there are 3,000 'A' level students who are very well qualified for university but who cannot get places.
There are currently three universities in Zimbabwe:
· University of Zimbabwe in Harare
There are approximately 8,000 students on campus studying a variety of subjects including engineering (civil, mechanical and electrical, mining and metallurgy). In 1990, 693 students were enrolled for engineering. Even though this represents an increase of 78% over the 1987 figures these numbers are very small compared with arts and social studies graduates.
The University is also responsible for the training of laboratory technicians.(4) It was pointed out, however, that the practical facilities in the University in terms of laboratories are poor, since although the equipment is quite reasonable it is not maintained adequately. In addition, there are apparently few links between the University and industry who feel that the University is not interested in satisfying their requirements.
· The National University for Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo
Offering BSc programmes in sciences and technical subjects, NUST opened in 1991. There are currently 1,100 students studying four year courses which include an industrial placement year. The Engineering Faculty includes civil and water, mechanical and electrical. It is intended to introduce chemical engineering in the future. The intention of NUST is that all its students should have a more practical orientation in addition to being educated to a high academic standard. Engineering courses therefore last five years allowing for the practical element to be included. Whilst NUST could be an appropriate partner in a distance learning venture, provision would have to be made for extensive practical laboratory work.
· Africa University in Mutare (private)
Built with funds from the United Methodist Church, this opened in 1992, and currently has approximately 80 students. It is expected to reach full capacity of 2,500 by 1999. It will not have a Faculty of Engineering, but will have a Faculty of Science and Technology.(17) A high priority for the leaders of the University is the recruitment of more women as students and as faculty members(8)
A fourth university, the Catholic University, is to be built. Neither the money nor the land has yet been found for the project, but interested parties are already manoeuvring for the tenders.(11)
The Government plan is to address the higher level manpower needs of the country at university level, focusing specifically on scientific and technical fields. This will include a Faculty of Environment and Design in the University of Zimbabwe.(4) However, very few postgraduate degrees exist or are planned and this provides an opportunity for distance learning provision.
9.1 Engineering students
University engineering students in Zimbabwe were described as excellent academically but generally weak in terms of their practical skills due to the lack of practical facilities. Although one interviewee did indicate that they had good 'hands-on' mechanical skills, the biggest problem which Zimbabweans seem to encounter relates to the application of the theory: they can be very numerate and very literate but have great difficulty translating these into applied skills.
Moreover their ambitions after they have graduated also provide problems for companies: they want to be put in charge as managers rather than to work as engineers.
The problem of employment also applies to engineering graduates, with a substantial number of them currently out of work. It was pointed out that, at present, private companies do not need engineers, but they do need technicians and artisans.
In addition there is no need for more civil engineering in the country, but according to several interviewees, it is the only area which generally receives attention.
10.0 PROFESSIONAL BODIES
The Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers (ZIE) is the country's professional engineering body. Accreditation of degree programmes is currently given to individual university departments; candidates are then accepted as graduates of that department. No-one can use the title 'engineer' unless (s)he is a member of the ZIE. There are future plans to accredit courses offered by the Polytechnics: there is currently no accreditation at the technician level.
There is no licensing system for engineers. However, ZIE represents the profession, covering 30 different disciplines. A breakdown of its membership gives an indication of the composition of levels of engineering in the country:
38% of the members are civil engineers.(19)
The above figures are not definitive as regards the whole country in that not everyone belongs to the ZIE, but the figures do indicate the poor ratio of technicians to the level of chartered engineers i.e. 374:938 or 1:2.5, whereas it is considered that a ratio of four technicians to every graduate engineer would be more balanced. There should also be four to ten artisans for every technician depending on the discipline and type of work.
11.0 CONTINUING EDUCATION
11.1 Professional updating
It was pointed out that there is a low degree of professionalism in the country, particularly as many people in top positions are not university educated. This evidently has an effect with regard to the perception of training. One resondent put in the form:
'Industry has to wake up and get up to
The ZIE collaborates with colleges in running a limited number of courses covering most disciplines common in Zimbabwe, but very little Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is conducted within companies, although generally the country is now beginning to recognise its value. Indeed, job-related training was identified as a weakness in the system. There is, for example, no mechanism for upgrading engineers or technicians and there are no postgraduate students. Moreover, most posts in agricultural engineering are not held by engineers with a recognised qualification: in this sector, like several others, engineers learn 'on the job'. The mining industry also has a need for CPD, for example, among mining surveyors.
A fundamental problem is that companies do not offer training because of concern over subsequent poaching by other organisations - a common difficulty in Zimbabwe.
Even if the need for CPD is acknowledged, the major question would be how to get industry to invest in it: most students are supported by government loans and limited grants, few are privately funded - a pattern that it likely to remain. There is a need for the employer to take a greater role, but there remains a question mark over who will pay for it.
11.2 Technological awareness
The performance of secondary schools in science is poor, and universities are accordingly obliged to accept students with 'A'-level scores much lower than those gained in the humanities.
According to the Second Five year National Development Plan,
'Development of Science and Technology is
Zimbabwe's long term and most important strategy for economic and social
To that aim, the Research Council of Zimbabwe (RCZ) was established in the 1980s. The RCZ accordingly set up the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) in 1993. The mandate of the SIRDC is:
'to facilitate industrial development in the
country and to help restructure industrial strategy through modernisation and
It also aims to provide technical advice and support to small scale farmers, resource-poor individuals, cottage industry operators, informal sector and emerging industrial entrepreneurs wishing to launch productive enterprises.(21)
Six institutes are to be established to carry out the generation and adaptation of technology in the following areas:
· Building Technology
· Energy Technology
· Environment and Remote Sensing Technology
· Mechanical Engineering
· Microelectronics and Electronics.
There is also to be a Department of Industrial Management.
Working together with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), the goal of SIRDC is to enable Zimbabwean industries to produce products to international standards and world class quality.(21) Its mission is to (advance) Zimbabwe's capability of exploiting global technology for industrial competitiveness'
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the manufacturing associations and the Indigenous Development Centre will also have significant inputs into the project.(4)
12.0 DISTANCE LEARNING IN ZIMBABWE
The Government has acknowledged the role that distance learning can play in meeting demand and there is a well established section of Adult and Distance Education in the Ministry of Education and Culture. This deals primarily with adults and school leavers who have dropped out of formal secondary education, and works closely with the private distance education institutions. It also works through such organisations the Zimbabwe Institute of Distance Education which focuses on popularising distance education and the study group system.(5)
12.1 Existing courses
· Teacher training by distance learning is well known. The Ministry of Higher Education's distance education programme grew out of the ZINTEC course mentioned earlier. This method of teacher training proved to be more cost-effective than conventional teacher training programmes, and the Government initiated the national Distance Education Centre where distance education modules are designed for all teacher training colleges.(5)
· A distance education unit was set up in the University of Zimbabwe in 1993 and almost immediately recruited 3,500 students onto the BA (Ed) programme. This large influx of numbers in such a short space of time caused huge administrative problems, and the University has appointed a Pro-Vice Chancellor to take charge of distance education. The numbers do however give an indication of the demand in the country.
· In addition to the local courses, Wye College, of the University of London, offers a Distance Learning MSc in Agricultural Development in conjunction with the Faculty of Agriculture and Economics in the University of Zimbabwe (a course which makes use of a local tutor and which is very successful, with 100% pass rate to date).
· The School of Mines, a private distance learning institution, sponsored by the mining industry, also offers a certificate of competence for mine managers by distance learning. Previously part of the Bulawayo Polytechnic, the School of Mines was re-established by mining companies frustrated by the state of public sector training. The same companies are reluctant to release employees from work for training and thus favour distance education. The system functions with a mentoring scheme within companies, with help from those who have already done the course. There is a residential element but it is not compulsory. The School of Mines is also planning to adapt material being planned by the Association of Mine Engineers, modifying it for Zimbabwean needs. The School is very much in favour of distance learning and believes it encourages entrepreneurship.
The British Council is considering running some distance learning in management subjects. It could also potentially provide administrative support in the local management of distance learning programmes.
12.2 Distance learning providers
Twelve institutions are identified on the ICDL database as offering distance learning in one form or another in Zimbabwe:
· Zimbabwe Agricultural Technical and Extension Services
· Central African Correspondence College
· International College of Bookkeeping and Accountancy
· International Correspondence Schools
· Ministry of Health
· Organisational Training and Development (pvt) Ltd
· Rapid Results College
· University of Zimbabwe
· Zimbabwe Chapter of the Federation of African Media Women
· Zimbabwe Distance Education College
· Zimbabwe Institute of Distance Education
· Zimbabwe Institute of Systemic Therapy
The Zimbabwe Distance Education College includes Correspondence in its full title and it may well be that there is a fine line between 'distance' and 'correspondence ' in the output of some of the above organisations This particular college offers correspondence texts, audio cassettes, video tapes and weekend courses and its science courses require the use of a laboratory for practical work.
It is obvious from the above list that distance learning is known in Zimbabwe. Moreover, the President is reputed to have several degrees by distance learning himself and to be in favour of this mode of learning.
The South African Distance Learning University (UNISA) has a major market in Zimbabwe. Whereas the University of Zimbabwe can afford to buy in UNISA programmes, it cannot afford to buy UK Open University programmes, without aid. UNISA material relies heavily on texts and there is little student support at present. Consequently, drop-out from UNISA courses in Zimbabwe is high.
Nevertheless, UNISA is evidently strong competition for any UK programmes, which might be introduced in Zimbabwe although at present their courses are entirely focused in the arts and management fields; there is no engineering or technology. One interviewee did feel, however, that a UK degree would be more valued than a degree from South Africa, although the Minister of Education is reputedly not keen on Zimbabweans taking external examinations.
12.4 Cultural adaptability
There was general agreement that the Zimbabweans are well adapted to distance learning because:
· they are highly motivated, indeed more so, generally, than their European counterparts. This is especially true for those in their late teens/early twenties.
· high value is placed upon education and many know that distance education provides their only opportunity for progress
· the population is highly literate and many speak English, even though it is their second language
· many are already accustomed to the concept of distance learning
Other cultural factors were identified which are relevant to the project:
· Africans grasp three dimensional concepts later than Europeans, typically at about 16-17 years of age compared to 12. Interestingly, Chinese and Japanese are able to appreciate spatial 3-D around the age of 8. This has implications for the approach to training for several engineering disciplines
· Black Zimbabweans apparently adapt very well to Japanese working practices and work well in conditions of fairly rigid discipline
· Africans are very good at remembering the theory, but find it very difficult to put that theory into practice
12.5 Identified needs for courses
The need for distance learning is indicated by the numbers leaving the school system each year: there are in excess of 65,000 successful 'O' level students annually; of these approximately 10,000 go on to study at 'A' level, 12,000 to teacher training college, 3,000 into nursing, 3,000 into the Forces, 2,000 into forestry, mining and local government and 12,000 enter technical institutions and polytechnics. Thus around 25,000 still remain unable to gain a place in training and continue to apply for courses. Distance learning courses could help satisfy this large and unmet demand.
An indication of the potential demand in one subject area is also shown in the figures of Bulawayo Polytechnic: every year there are 10,000 applicants (all with at least 5 'O' levels) for only 200 places in hotel and catering studies. Given the level of demand, applicants are simply selected at random.
Needs were identified in the following areas:
· Management skills - black Zimbabweans are not well trained in business methods. As a result many projects are not being managed properly in Zimbabwe. Consultant engineers are taking the role of project managers. Many companies would like their own project managers, but simply do not have them. It is indicative of this that 90% of companies have whites at senior management level.
· Entrepreneurship/product enterprise - training would considerably help small scale enterprises which have the potential to expand rapidly and could absorb quite a few of the new graduates from the education system. Many of the informants felt economic success would come from the development of small businesses. Africans, in this case Zimbabweans, often find it difficult to plan ahead, and need training to help them in this area. Distance learning courses would therefore need to focus on the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills. The concept of entrepreneurship is relatively new to Africans, however, and they need both training and encouragement in this area. It will take some time, perhaps a generation, to produce results.
· Industrial engineering - a broad, general engineering approach is required with significant industrial involvement.
· Postgraduate degree - there exists a definite need for courses at postgraduate level. Postgraduate degrees are generally achieved now by students gaining qualifications abroad. Many of those who qualify abroad do not return to the country.
· Professional engineers - there appears to be a lack of skills in the areas of design, production and quality assurance.
· Water engineering - distance learning could play a crucial role in providing necessary training in the area at postgraduate levels and in updating.
· Electrical engineering - there is a need in this field for courses which could act as an adjunct to the programmes, already offered in the University of Zimbabwe.
· Advanced courses for the telecommunications industry - there is a need for the industry to expand into advanced courses, for example into software engineering. There is also a demand for an MSc programme in telecommunications, a course which is not offered by the University of Zimbabwe. Nor does UNISA offer any telecommunication-specific courses. There is a view within the industry that as the industry develops, distance learning programmes, will also be developed to deal with the training demands.
· Other telecommunications programmes, - the telecommunications industry does require more engineers and wants to be able to promote technicians to the level of engineer. The BEng course (as offered by English polytechnics) in distance learning format would be an appropriate way to achieve this.
· Training of technical teachers at the polytechnics - there is a definite need for well-trained and experienced lecturers.
· Courses for estimators - this is seen as a particularly hard area in which to find qualified people.
12.6 Current moves in distance learning
The Government is taking distance education extremely seriously. The President has set up a commission due to a report in November 1994. Apparently it is not a question of whether there should be a Distance Education University in Zimbabwe but rather when and how. There was a suggestion that the intention might be to emulate UNISA. The Commission is to determine the manpower needs of most use to Zimbabwe and then to propose how training would be organised.
The Commission has to decide whether it should be set up as a college in the University of Zimbabwe or whether it should be a separate university. It is already planned to enrol the first students by March 1995.
There is however, some scepticism. Such a distance education university is not seen by all as a serious prospect - given that the Government is committed to keeping spending down but more as a cosmetic move in view of the forthcoming elections.