Report No. 165
4.4. How Zimbabwe achieved universal primary enrolment in three years.-
The aforesaid report of HDC has brought out1 the key reforms made by Zimbabwe for enrolling students and the pro and cons of the reforms. These are summarised below-
A. Key reforms for enrolling student-
1 Compulsory primary schooling.
2. Primary school tuition fees abolished.
3. Repetition abolished.
4. Primary school graduates given option of four years of secondary schooling.
5. Rapid increase in public spending on education.
6. Substantial community financing introduced.
B. Key reforms for increasing buildings-
1. 'Hot seating' introduced - double shifts but with two different sets of teachers.
2. Automatic promotion for primary school and first four years of secondary school.
C. Key reforms for increasing teachers-
1. Teacher Supply was rapidly increased by employing untrained teachers at the primary level.
2. Teacher supply was increased by introducing a new, low-cost teacher-training scheme, Zimbabwe Integrated National Teacher Education Course (ZINTEC): only two terms in the four-year course were spent in college, the remainder being spent teaching in schools.
D. Other reforms to lower unit costs-
1. Unit costs reduced by standardizing classes, thus increasing class size in many of the more privilege schools.
2. School resource allocation strictly on the basis of children enrolled.
3. Number of topic in curriculum reduced.
4. Examinations localized.
5. Science-kits for class-based science teaching, even without labs of electricity.
6. Vocational subjects introduced.
E. Key strategies for financing universal primary education-
Focused on devolution of responsibility for planning, financing, and implementation to local communities and households
Financing strategy for government primary schools. Government paid for staff salaries, maintenance, all other materials and running expenses; the community financed building materials and school building, paid a small variable fee, and provided voluntary additional community support.
Financing strategy for non-government primary schools (90 per cent. of all primary schools): the government provided salaries of teaching staff and gave a pet capita grant of $ Z 17.35 per child (1Z $-US $ 0.4-US $ 1.6 over the period); 'responsible authorities' financed school maintenance, non-teacher salaries, furniture, equipment, text-books, and running expenses of schools; the community financed school building, paid general purpose and sports fees, contributed to a building fund, and provided voluntary additional community support.
It would be worth pointing out that amongst other-reforms to lower unit cost, vocational subjects were introduced. This could reduce unit cost by producing marketable goods in schools. However, it failed elsewhere in Africa. The report observes on the aspect of financing for education that several South Asian countries heavily subsidised higher level of education. A rise in funding for university education would have been understandable if the goal of universal basic education had already been met. The efficiency of education spending in South Asia is very low. The report further projects' a five point strategy to ensure universal basic education:
1. The first step is to prepare a concrete five year plan (1999-2003) to extend universal basic education.
2. Compulsory education laws must be passed and enforced.
3. In order to make the financial targets more feasible, a cost effective strategy should be adopted for implementing the target of universal primary education.
4. In order to formulate a realistic, financial strategy, the main focus should be on the real location of existing budgets.
5. A number of innovative methods can also be used to provide adequate funding for the goal of universal primary education. Certain countries have resorted to special levies earmarked for education spending. It goes without saying that some of the radical features/strategies which helped in achieving universal primary education elsewhere, must be adopted.
1. Mahbub Haq and Khadija Haq Human Development in South Asia, 1998, Human Development Center, pp.2, 142-143