Programmes needed to make university education affordable

By Crispen Rateiwa

Life is not easy, especially for the youths. A general survey in the country tells a simple story. Whether one chooses to pursue academics, vocational education or sports, youths are struggling to make ends meet. With company closures, retrenchments and paltry salaries, youths cannot rely with parents or guardians’ support, especially for university and college tuitions fees. Learning is meant to improve skill, knowledge, value and attitude so that one can get meaningfully employed. Through an array of policies and interventions, surely the government must play a role and make higher education cheaper and accessible to avert mass college drop outs.

Learning spurs research, development and innovation which grows the economy. Everyone needs to learn to improve the standard of life. The government must be inventively committed to produce high-level work force for the economy. How can university students meet all their cost of education? How do graduates -they are more than job vacancies- pay credit to the family or service loans, that is, if they are widely accessible? What depresses and puzzles students, parents and guardians is, after paying exorbitant fees, it’s not guaranteed for a graduate to secure employment.

The grants/loan scheme
The government of Zimbabwe availed a number of programs to fund education at tertiary level. The loan scheme was introduced as a means of assisting needy students to pursue higher education, while reducing the burden on public funds. In the 1990s, for example, students could get government-backed grants and loans to pay tuition fees, computer lab fees, library fees, sports fees, field trips, medical aid, student representative council, food, thesis /project expenses, rent in private accommodation, transport , stationery and personal expenses. Today, due to shrunk or no loan grant scheme, a good number of undergraduate students are expected to fully pay, directly in cash from their pockets – before the commencement and course of a single semester – the above fees and expenses, which range from US$1 000 to US$2 000 per year depending on the course of study. Note that, an academic year consists two semesters.


The deteriorating economic conditions grappling the country as evidenced by job losses and unemployment rate at more than 80% leaves students between a rock and a hard surface. Who should they turn to for their education fees and expenses? While few parents and guardians get paltry salaries, others do not have secure jobs as they are living from hand to mouth. The majority of students are struggling to pay, therefore deferring studies, dropping out or engaging in transactional sex. It is justified for present university and college students to label the 1990s university students a privileged lot because they had access to grants and loans. The Zimbabwe Independent of 6 March 2015 reported that, “Government had a system in place whereby it offered students money which at some point comprised a 75% grant and 25% loan for the 15 weeks of the semester”.

Considering that Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, budgets the biggest annual funds to 2016 education, US$810 million, students hope and pray that there would be a big chunk to subsidize education; helping underprivileged university and college students who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fees. Strict adherence to government policy that needy students should not be prevented by financial hardship from studying at the tertiary level must be followed. From the US$810 million, the government should establish a system of study loans to be repaid only when the student completes his studies and finds gainful employment. Without misuse and timely availing of the money, there is no doubt the money will contribute in making education cheaper and keep students in school.

StudyingAlthough the system ensures underprivileged students access to higher education, there are some loopholes in government loan grant schemes. Due to the poor performing economy, few student loans can be repaid because there is high graduate unemployment and high rates of default. In this case, a law that states student loans would not be “dischargeable,” or covered by bankruptcy is necessary. Usually, a student loan has an interest rate of 4 per cent of the graduate’s gross salary in addition to income tax charged from the first month the debt becomes refundable.

Research shows that servicing a loan starts after six months grace period -after a graduate has finished his or her course/programme- following which the parent, guardian or surety will be required to pay in terms of the loan agreement contract entered into between the government, the student and parent/guardian/surety. The government will place on graduates’ salaries automatic deductions. If the informal sector could be streamlined and taxed, it will be possible for those not employed by government to be hold accountable, instructing their banks to make a monthly payment on the graduates’ behalf. In 1989, Ghana introduced a loan scheme to minimize defaults by linking repayment of loans with pension contributions. Graduates who would have received a loan first repaid their loan before they qualified for a pension.

The cadetship program
Students will be required to sign bonds as a condition for accepting a scholarship/bursary/grant from government. The cadetship programme compels beneficiaries to serve the state for the number of years they would have received government funding. The agreement forms also stipulate that borrowers would not be expected to seek employment abroad until they have fully settled their obligations. Government offers a cadetship scheme where it would pay fees for students at state universities and in return they would be bonded through having to work in the country for a specified number of years. For example, upon graduation and certification, engineers will be expected to work for five years at certain engineering firms where there is an engineering shortage. There is a service requirement upon engineer certification requiring the recipient to accept employment as an engineer in a high needs field and region. The cadetship scheme is noble; therefore, it must be revamped.

Grants, Scholarship or bursaries funds
It is encouraging that some private sector, religious or other charitable organizations in Zimbabwe offer both needs based and merit based scholarships, bursary, and grants to prospective or ongoing students. Their continued and wide-based support in work force development is crucial. A local private hospital may offer grant or scholarship funds in exchange for a commitment from the student to work for that hospital for a set number of years after graduating from the nursing program and obtaining certification.

In Kenya, there is a strong commitment to cost-sharing in education, and local communities, parents, religious and private organizations make direct contributions to education costs under the principle of Harambee.

The importance with which the government has viewed education is demonstrated in the growing annual allocations of funds to education in comparison with other government services. The $810 million annual allocation for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Higher Education compared to the second highly annually funded government department, Ministry of Home Affairs, which received US$396 million testifies government’s love for its youths.

However, the allocation is a drop in an ocean and there is need for new education policies that rope in other players in higher education funding. Some of them include the introduction of concrete government loan policies to fully fund tertiary education and the “learn now and pay later” incentive in colleges and universities. The government must encourage and allow independent donors and organizations to assist in university funding. Provided there are government incentives, the business sector may participate in skills development; unveiling loans and grants for tertiary students.

All tertiary-level institutions should undertake some revenue generating projects such as tree seedling projects, cattle ranching and so on to broaden the income base. Depending on hiking college fees invites ‘fees must fall campaigns’ from student unions. Colleges should be allowed to sell goods which they have produced and operate a revolving fund or trading account to broaden revenue sources rather than entirely depending on charging tuition fees.

Crispen Rateiwa is a publishing studies student at a local university. The views that he shares here are his own. Contact him on ; Facebook, Crispen Rateiwa; and Twitter @ndakangwarisa. Read his blog


Teachers: “Heroes Without Merit!”

By Bright Zindove & Sineke Sibanda

One thing I know for sure is that most great men on earth stood on the shoulders of great and mighty women. One way or the other, they  passed through the hands of a teacher. Steven Hawkings, Bill Gates, Gandhi to mention just a few, at some point in their lives had to get education so as to create a better world. We all need someone to remove all the dark meta in our brains, someone to treat us with tough love and prepare us for the tough world we live in.


The sacrifices some of our teachers have made were too immense and surpassed what our parents could have done on their own. You know, we all come from differnt backgrounds and situations at home and all meet one person who has the responsibility of understanding all of us and treat us according to how we have been bruised or spoiled: just to make us better.

I remember how unrefined all of us in class were back in the day, in behavior, morals, even academically. As naughty as we were, we were innocent academic, moral and behavioral virgins; couldn’t differentiate wrong from right. Some of our friends came from broken homes and some were orphaned; it took our teachers to play that significant role to make them feel the same way as those who came from stable homes. It was a teacher’s duty to make us coexist and suppress the hate traits of humanity.

great teacher.jpg

With so much responsibilities our teachers bore on their shoulders to make our parents to be proud of what we have become, it makes so much sense to question why is it that the very same people who spend their time playing such a huge role in our lives have become a laughing stock in our societies. Why is it our teachers are earning so little whilst they are doing more than anyone could? It is not easy to develop a child, besides this being a job, it is more of a calling. Not everybody can do this. So why is it that our heroes who fight against the dark forces of ignorance every single day get little recognition and sometimes no respect at all?  Let us give praise where it is due. Let us appreciate the hard work that our teachers have done, are doing and continue to do to make better citizens wards building better tomorrow…

UCT Students’ Protest Turns Ugly!

By Zodidi Dano

University of Cape Town students frustrated with the housing crisis and other challenges, set paintings and a plaque from the Smuts Hall residence alight at the foot of Jameson stairs yesterday.

Earlier, students raided the dining hall at Fuller residence, and stripped the hall of its decor and paintings. The paintings were piled high and set alight, as students danced and chanted.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said police had been deployed to monitor the situation, but no arrests have been made. Police were still on the scene late last night.

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UCT spokeswoman Gerda Kruger said: “The behaviour by RMF members is |criminal and has exceeded all possible limits of lawful protest action. We are deeply concerned for the safety of students and staff. We call on students to refrain from supporting RMF in these actions and to vacate the area.”

Earlier in the day, the university’s management had threatened to dismantle the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement shack erected on Residence Road, Upper Campus. The one-roomed corrugated iron|structure, RMF said, was a representation of township life.

A portable toilet stall and two braai stands had been erected alongside the shack which had been cordoned off with chevron tape.

Inside the shack were a mattress, a table and a two-plate stove. The outside of the shack had been painted green, with the words “UCT housing crisis” scrawled across the back.

In a letter from the university’s management, it said the shack was interrupting traffic and pedestrian flow.

The letter asked the students to move the shack off Residence Road, to a grassy patch in front of Smuts Hall.
The letter read: “If you refuse to allow the officers to move the shack and the shack is still in its current position by 5pm we will unfortunately have no option but to take action to remove it.”

By the 5pm deadline, there was no sign of security or university officials present to dismantle the structure.

The students had barricaded a section of the road with tyres and wheelie bins and were singing and dancing around a small fire of dustbins and trash in the parking lot near the shack.

University spokesman Elijah Moholola said: “The reason the management has asked RMF to move the shack is that it has caused interference with traffic
flow, even to the point of causing a backlog on the M3 today.
“It interferes with the freedom of movement of other staff and students, and due to bins being set alight it causes safety risks.”

UCT Prot2.jpg

It was only at 6pm that the students gathered at the Jameson steps to hold a plenary which came to the decision of invading Fuller Hall’s dining room to find food.

The students entered the hall from the kitchen after kicking the door down.
They then helped themselves to food.

“We, the underprivileged students who have been protesting all day, are hungry,” said Zola Shokane of the RMF movement.

Shokane said members of the RMF were protesting against the housing crisis, financial exclusion and the management’s lack of commitment to promises made last year.
“We are homeless, there is no accommodation for us here. What else can we do.”
The hashtags ‪#‎HomelessAtUCT‬ and ‪#‎Shackville‬ were used to gain traction on social media.
UCT has 6 680 beds for 27 000 students.
“Some 75 percent of students live outside of the residence system,” Moholola said.

The university has asked homeowners with space in Cape Town to assist the university in providing residence for those with no accommodation.

Another student, Paleo Mokoena, also a member of RMF, said the shack would remain on Residence Road until vice-chancellor Max Price committed to meeting with them.

Mokoena said the letter was hand delivered to the group by the deputy vice chancellor.
“There is no signature, no letterhead and we saw they had about 20 copies of it handing it out to students.

“That is no form of communication – we scrunched those papers and threw them in the bin.”

RMF has created a book to record the number of students without accommodation.
By 5pm, at least 50 students had listed their names.

Mokoena said: “We are here to meet with management on our terms. Max Price must commit to a meeting with us.”

However, Kruger said: “We also delivered to Rhodes Must Fall a letter asking them to vacate Avenue Hall by 12pm on Friday this week.

“We have made repeated attempts to engage RMF on the matter of Avenue Hall and even to discuss the issue of alternative space but they have dismissed any attempt at engagement.
“They refuse to speak with the executive but consistently verbally abuse and threaten.


 Pictures: David Ritchie
(Source: Cape Argus or get the app at

PAUDC Championship Comes To Zim

Staff Reporter

The Midlands State University has won the bid to host the Pan African Universities Debate Championship (PAUDC) in December 2016. The council committee accepted and approved Midlands State University to be the Host for the 2016 PAUDC.

This year’s championship will be held under the theme ‘Madzimbabwe’ derived from the ancient Zimbabwean empire Great Zimbabwe from which the country takes its name.

According to a statement from the MSU, this PAUDC will be the 9th edition of this prestigious competition.

The statement also emphasised that the competition is a great marketing and economic booster to Zimbabwe and the city of Gweru as hundreds of foreigners will be visiting the country and using  various services, products and infrastructure. This year will see a trophy being made in Zimbabwe that will be used for all future tournaments held by the PAUDC.

All events surrounding debate will be presented as ‪#‎road2madzimbabwe16‬.’We are honoured to follow this journey towards PAUDC 2016 in Zimbabwe!’, read part of the statement.

The MSU has consistently participated well in the previous competitions. The following exhibits the magnitude of achievements and honours the  Debaters won:

History made at PAUDC 2015 in Ghana

MSU was the 1st Zimbabwean Debate team to have all its teams breaking into the Octo Finals
MSU was the 1st Debate team to have a Female Public Speaking Champion
MSU was the 1st Zimbabwean Debate Team to be awarded best Adjudicator in Public Speaking
MSU was the 1st Zimbabwean institution to have two of their teams in the PAUDC semi-finals
MSU set a Zimbabwean record of having two teams breaking with a total of 20 team points
MSU is the 1st Zimbabwean institution to have teams breaking in the top 3 (2 MSU teams were in the top 3)
MSU was the 1st Zimbabwean Debate team to be in the PAUDC Finals
Awards & Achievements

2016 PAUDC official Hosts
PAUDC Council Deputy Executive Secretary
Overall Zimbabwe Best Speakers Award
Top Ten Best Speaker Award (position 4)
PAUDC Public Speaking Best Adjudicator
Top Ten Best Adjudicator Award (position 8)
PAUDC Octo-finalist (1 Team)
PAUDC Semi-finalist (1 Team)
PAUDC Finalist (1 team)
PAUDC Public Speaking Champions

( In picture: Eppnoggia Mutetwa, PAUDC 2015 Public speaking Champion)

‘The strong man inside her…’

Nomathemba Zondo

Have you ever appreciated the fact that you are a woman? Have you ever given yourself time to figure out why God made you to be who you are today and most importantly to be woman? Well, it is because you are a special creation which is strong enough to carry the burdens of the universe and to keep on keeping on just hoping for a better tomorrow.

Though society has often cultivated this mentality that women are sex objects and are subjects to male gaze,  I know for a fact that women are better than that. They are strong human beings who always push for things until they get results.

I appreciate the mother that I have  because through her I learnt that anything is possible and i can surely do ‘bad all by myself“. Yes she is married to my dad, she is a wife but that never stopped her from dreaming big. My mom never had the time to wait for my dad all day long to come back home from work then serve him with food and then go to sleep then do the exact thing the same day. She would wake up in the morning and go look for money by sellingamabhele (second hand clothes) so that me and my brother could go to school and have a bright future.

Despite the fact that this woman never had the opportunity to go to school because she grew up in a very patriarchal home where they believed there was no use of taking a girl child to school since she was going to get married and the husband would take care of her, she grew up and reversed this whole ideology by working hard to earn a living so as to also provide for the family.

She would spend sleepless nights on the road just to try and earn a living and not depend on her husband not because my dad was not earning enough but because she knew how to play her role as a woman. Just because society has constantly reminded you that you are a woman and your role is in the kitchen does not mean you have to stay in the kitchen!

I’m so inspired by her because I am the lady that I am today because of her. I know that being a woman does not bring limitations but its actually a bonus because i can give birth and  do more than the society thinks I’m capable of. As we approach the woman’s month, lets celebrate who we are as women. Embrace who you are because it takes you to empower yourself before you empower others.