ZIMBABWE has seen a significant decline in education spending in the last two years due to macro-economic challenges, the World Bank has noted.
The international monetary organisation has since called for extensive reforms to translate the government’s education vision into a concrete set of programmes and projects to accelerate economic recovery and reduce socioeconomic disparities.
This is part of the findings in the Zimbabwe Higher and Tertiary Education Sector Analysis Report, developed by the World Bank and the Higher Education Ministry.
The report acknowledges the ongoing reform efforts the department has embarked on under its Education 5.0 strategy to revitalise higher and tertiary education through the five pillars of Teaching, Research, Community Service, Innovation, and Industrialisation.
It also found out that in the past 10 years, Zimbabwe has sustained a high level of public education spending, including spending on tertiary education, relative to the size of its economy.
However, the macro-economic challenges in the last two years have seen a significant decline in education spending both as a percentage of total government expenditure and as a percentage of gross domestic product.
“The government’s longstanding commitment to education spending reflects the importance of human capital development as a national cultural value. As we are fully cognizant of the ever-changing world in which we operate we now seek to transform our Tertiary Education to meaningfully impact economic productivity and workforce skills development,” said Fanuel Tagwira, the secretary in the Higher Education Ministry.
The education analysis underscores the recent World Bank Digital Economy Diagnostic for Zimbabwe launched in May, which revealed that Zimbabwe is facing a significant skills deficit in science and technology-linked job roles, including digital skills.
Studies on the digital transformation of the African economy stress the importance for Zimbabwe of further developing its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programmes.
“Digital economies are energized when there is a sizeable population with basic digital skills and a critical mass of tech-savvy skilled personnel and advanced specialists that help to adapt and diffuse digital technologies across different sectors,” said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Country Manager, Zimbabwe.
“Therefore, Zimbabwe requires focused effort on developing a digitally competent workforce and digitally literate citizens who could reap the benefits that the digital transformation can bring.”
The report also assesses the performance of Zimbabwe’s tertiary education system in the context of the country’s development challenges. It provides a comprehensive diagnosis of sectoral issues as the basis for detailed policy recommendations including a sustainable financing strategy and appropriate implementation arrangements.
The report also evaluates the sector’s ability to utilize inputs efficiently and produce the outcomes targeted by policymakers. It highlights key reform measures designed to improve the system’s performance.