Education & Jobs

Schooling in Zimbabwe

Primary education starts at age seven in Zimbabwe and should last for seven years. Though primary schooling has been compulsory since 1987, the closure of schools and widespread poverty mean that many children no longer attend.

Cottage Industry

Peanut butterIn this video...Blessing shows how he makes peanut butter to support his family. He buys the peanuts from the local market.

Two years ago, the United Nations Children’s agency (UNICEF) found that many rural schools were shut. The main problem was that teachers could no longer be found to work in the sector.

The number of schools operating in urban areas was better, though schools were often poorly staffed and equipped. Overall across the country, school attendance was estimated to have fallen to around one-fifth of all pupils.

Children who pass their primary exams are entitled to carry on to secondary level for two, four or six years. For those able to complete secondary education and carry on further, there are several universities and colleges. These include the University of Zimbabwe, founded in 1955 at Harare, and the National University of Sciences and Technology, founded in 1991 at Bulawayo.

  • A child painting, Zimbabwe
  • Children at school in Zimbabwe

13 million textbooks from foreign donors were delivered to 5,600 primary schools in Zimbabwe through the United Nations Children’s agency (UNICEF).

Cottage industries

Due to the country’s economic difficulties, it is estimated that perhaps only 10-20% of Zimbabweans are in formal work. Three million Zimbabweans may have left the country to seek work in South Africa and elsewhere.

In rural areas, many communities support themselves through small cottage industries, which make use of local produce and materials. Watch the video above of the small venture making peanut butter, which has been supported by the SOS Family Strengthening Programme.

Trade or cultural theft?

Despite the income derived from exported basketry, some within Zimbabwe have expressed concern about cultural artefacts leaving the country.

With reduced tourism in Zimbabwe, some handicraft industries have been struggling. Basket weaving products are important in certain areas for earning extra income. Though weavers often make simple functional baskets, they have the knowledge to work more intricate patterns and styles, using skills passed from generation to generation.

Basket designs are specific to different regions. The Tonga women in the Zambezi valley area work with bold patterns and colours made from natural dye roots. South African and international buyers have been supporting projects which supply locally-made baskets for export. This provides work for women weavers, and also for the local men, who help with collecting the materials e.g. ilala palm.