Britain says Zimbabwean education has declined but still poaches talent from it




Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Zimbabwe’s education delivery has been under pressure since 2018 due to under-investment, low wages and Covid-19, a British junior minister told Parliament yesterday.

Vicky Ford, junior minister in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said the United Nations had assessed Zimbabwe in 2014 to have a literacy rate of 88.7%, placing Zimbabwe in the top 10 African countries.

Responding to a question from Ruth Jones, Ford said: “However, since 2018 the education system in Zimbabwe has been under significant pressure due to under-investment, low wages and COVID-19.

“As a result we are seeing increasing rates of school dropouts and lower pass rates, particularly amongst girls due to rising rates of early marriage and pregnancy. We do not have an updated UN assessment, however.”

Zimbabwe was under President Robert Mugabe in 2014 but under Emmerson Mnangagwa from November 2017.

Ford said Britain has been supporting 1.4 million pupils annually since 2017. Zimbabwe has 4.6 million pupils in its schools.

Q &A

Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the literacy rate in Zimbabwe.

Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office): In 2014 the UN assessed Zimbabwe’s literacy rate at 88.7%, demonstrating the strong delivery of education since the early 1980s and placing Zimbabwe in the top ten of African countries. However, since 2018 the education system in Zimbabwe has been under significant pressure due to under-investment, low wages and COVID-19. As a result we are seeing increasing rates of school dropouts and lower pass rates, particularly amongst girls due to rising rates of early marriage and pregnancy. We do not have an updated UN assessment, however.

The UK is committed to supporting young people’s education in Zimbabwe. Since 2017, we have annually supported 1.4 million of the poorest and most marginalised girls and boys in over 4,500 rural, remote primary and secondary schools through the provision of grants to ensure schools are adequately equipped and functional. Through our Zimbabwe Girls Secondary Education (ZGSE) Programme, we have also supported 57,000 marginalised girls to complete their secondary education.

Source: The Insider