OF WHAT USE ARE OUR DEGREES THEN?

by Sineke Sibanda

I’m so thrilled that for one of the few times as a country we have been able to construct or rather fix another road other than the common patches that we are used to, when patching potholes which make it hell to drive on anyway. Keep it up minister Joram Gumbo, you have done well.

I’m however worried with the kind of faith that our current administration has shown towards its people, its structures, its institutions and above all its future, the graduated youth. Apart from feeling betrayed that they school their own children in other countries to increase their chances of being international employees, I’m insulted that they have totally shunned opportunities for the ordinary people too.

Just a few days ago, they were banning imported property for the very reason that there is need to promote local property but surprisingly, today they are themselves importing ‘intellectual’ property from China to come and do a road construction for the Harare-Beit Bridge-Chirundu highway. A clear picture that for the past years our teaching stuff has been vainly working towards producing theoretical idiots that are incapable of doing something practical for their country. I do not have the statistics of how many personnel we have drooled out of colleges with expertise in the built industry, architecture, civil engineering etc. but I’m sure there are skilled people in the country who studied the relevant bit and could carry the project.

The worst betrayal you can feel as a college student under this administration apart from the fateful drought of jobs is when they show you that your degree is useless and cannot move your country forward. This actually tells an interesting tale, a sorrowful song that we are not good enough for the jobs they promised. You tend to wonder, to whom the promised two million jobs were for? The Chinese or the locals? If it’s the indigenous Taku or Sihle of Zimbabwe, then which jobs, digging the road and wheelbarrowing around a half-ton of wet cement? It is said the project given to Chinese based China Harbour Engineering Company will create about 300 000 employment opportunities, but which kind of jobs? It’s not the indigenous Zimbabwean in the lead, despite all the professed qualifications.

I don’t know if this doesn’t tell you a story about our education system. The common story here is that our education system has been turned into a commercial entity than a country building developmental lifelong project. We are still learning to be employees and our government endorses that. It is for this reason that our government has ignored the whole fairy tale that we are the most schooled in Africa. I call it a fairy tale because a fairy tale is a creative story of things that cannot be touched or felt but only imagined. If it was a reality, our government would be contracting us to do the jobs other than look elsewhere for expertise. So what is the meaning of going to college if a group of people are imported from China to do the exact same things we have been taught in college?

Above: Jobless Zimbabwe University Graduates  taking a rather innovative protest stance against worsening economic situation in the country took in Harare  CBD  playing soccer in the streets. (29 July 2016)

I read that the Zimbabwean consortium of 13 capable companies which had come together to work on the tender sometime in 2013 were betrayed by some government officials who demanded bribes before the project even took off. It seems we just don’t want to see a fellow Zimbabwean getting better in life and I bet now our administration is satisfactorily happy that the project is not in the hands of fellow black Zimbabwean professionals.

Of what use is our education if it cannot build the country and save government millions of US dollars used to import, accommodate, entertain, feed and pay other countries’ nationals for a job we can equally do? It’s no use at all because it is every graduate’s dream to leave behind a legacy of offering national service in return for a better profile other than just a degree certificate hung at home. The best thing you can ever do for your people as a failing government is to at-least invest in your own people. By contracting foreigners, whose profile are we building here? We all know that government is broke, at-least that’s what they want us to believe and we have witnessed it in the way they pay our civil service staff. But even if you can’t pay your people much, give them a profile and increase their opportunities to get better jobs in future.

With the state of job-scarcity today in Zimbabwe, I swear it is far much cheaper to employ locals to do the actual job than it is to hire foreign expertise because all we want is to evacuate the bridges in our suburbs and come back home in the evening with bread for our siblings to take to school the next morning, I’m sure they are tired of ‘Maputi’ and jolly-jus in their lunch tins.

It is so funny and hypocritical how this government preaches ‘indigenisation’ and go on to do the exact opposite. You should see them when they talk about this concept and emphasise it, OMG! It’s the best gospel in town, so sweet to your ears yet so bitter in taste. We are on a mission to indigenize but there is no faith in our own indigenous people and skills, so what are we exactly indeginising if we cannot invest in our human capital?

I can go on and on because of the injustice that has been done to our graduates, our learning institutions and a whole lot other things but today I just wish to get an answer for my question, of what use are our degrees? Who will employ our graduates if our own government which expects our votes in 2018 does not have faith in our capabilities. We are not that stupid, if the jobs are ours, give them to us, if you don’t trust us, give us a chance to prove that we are ready to build our nation. I write about this because I’m a student too and if I keep quiet, when my opportunity opens, you might pass it on to people of other countries while I wallow in poverty, joblessness and misery.

Sineke Sibanda is student in one of the local universities and writes on behalf of the concerned graduates. He can be contacted on sinekes@gmail.com

Image Credit: Newsday

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