Government has come up with a way to beef up the Zimbabwean education. The thrust is to cultivate profitability in the education system so that parents can handle more reasonable school fees. The initiative will see practical subjects being commercialized. This will be made possible through coming up with joint ventures involving private investors. This was approved by the Zimbabwean Cabinet a few days ago. Essentially the education system will now be bent on achieving two core things namely, profitability and academic excellence. Schools will have to devise commercial activities borne out of the practical subjects they teach.

Remarks By Minister Monica Mutsvangwa – Ministry Of Information, Publicity, And Broadcasting Services

The Ministry (of Primary and Secondary Education) will promote commercial ventures in schools through the use of land and space available to schools. The public schools will engage in commercial activities through fostering joint ventures with private investors.

A business development unit will be established at the Ministry’s head office to supervise, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of the schools commercial venture project. The Ministry is mandated to provide equitable, quality, inclusive, relevant, and competence-driven primary, secondary and non-formal education, as well as improving governance and access to quality, equitable and inclusive education.

It also seeks to increase uptake and application of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). Other areas of focus entail improving research, development and innovation; vocational skills and entrepreneurship among the youth and citizens and access to affordable quality education”.

Remarks By Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema – Ministry Of Primary And Secondary Education

Proceeds of these commercial ventures will be used to fund programmes at schools and relieve parents the burden of paying fees. School commercial ventures should enable schools to employ full time appropriate managers and employees paid by proceeds from the ventures. Some schools are already doing this. Therefore, pupils should not be used as sources of cheap labour, as the Ministry observes the declaration of rights enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, on freedom from slavery.

Pupils will be involved in applied learning as we shift to participatory and learner centred and interactive methodologies. It is therefore, of paramount importance to turn all public schools into economic centres through commercial ventures that use local resources.

Where appropriate each school should enter into joint ventures with private investors. Such endeavours will lead to free education which the Government is supposed to offer according to Chapter 1 Part 27 of the Constitution. Once we offer free education, it means President Mnangagwa would have relieved each family of the burden for paying for school fees.

This is the vision, which is in line with the Government’s efforts of achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030. Subjects like metal work and woodwork are part of the manufacturing sector which needs to be done commercially in schools. For example, schools in Bulawayo alone have the capacity to revive the industrial hub in Bulawayo. Some schools are manufacturing personal protective equipment against COVID-19. If some are schools sewing their own uniforms, I do not see why it cannot be done profitably.”

Comment By Arthur Maposa – National Association Of Secondary Heads (NASH) President

Schools have always envisaged a profit-making model, but the vision had been curtailed by lack of funding. This is a very good model and we are willing to adopt it. The whole idea really is education with production. That is where the world is going”. His comment was also buttressed by Cynthia Khumalo, National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) President. She pointed out that if the model for commercial activity was supported by the government, schools could implement it successfully.

There is no question about how noble this idea or initiative is. In fact, it is long overdue and needs to be implemented as soon as possible. However, the implementation aspect is the major concern here. The success of the initiative will be largely premised on how effectively it will be implemented in learning institutions. Corruption is a major problem in Zimbabwe and when great initiatives like these come up that is usually the biggest concern. The model, in theory, actually works and can go a long way in developing schools and reducing the burden of paying exorbitant school fees.