11 July 2023 The Cost of Education in Zimbabwe 

In Zimbabwe, government has implemented various policies and programmes aimed at improving access to education, such as the School Improvement Grant (SIG).  

The SIG is a programme aimed at providing financially strained schools with resources to address their most basic needs and meet a set of school functionality standards. The programme prioritizes funding to the schools serving the poverty-stricken communities and with the poorest levels of resource. Its purpose is to provide enough funding to lower-income schools for them to cover costs and function effectively.  

While the hope is that education will become free in the future, there are obstacles. In 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the Education Amendment Act into law, which compels the State to provide free basic education in line with provisions of section 27 of the Constitution. Section 27 reads: “The State must take all practical measures to promote (a) free compulsory basic education for children… ”  

The challenge has been insufficient funds in the 2023 budget, says Primary and Secondary Education Minister Evelyn Ndlovu, “We wish to do that, to give free education, but it is unfortunate we have US$6,3 million (for the exercise) and that is not enough.” 

Access is one of the significant challenges facing the education system in Zimbabwe. Many families struggle to afford the cost of fees to send their children to school. Additionally, the country’s economic challenges have resulted in a shortage of resources, such as textbooks and school supplies, which further hinders access to education. Rural areas often lack the necessary infrastructure, which also poses a challenge for students living in those areas, who often travel from far to attend school. 

Even once access to the system is obtained, it is not always retained. According to the 2021 Zimbabwe Education Fact Sheet (UNICEF), only 15% of all children complete upper secondary education. Secondary education, it seems, suffers from higher rates of dropouts.  

The UNICEF report further indicates that “socio-economic disparities influence the share of children completing a level of education.”  

Children, usually from rural settings, have particularly low completion rates. As children progress through the education system, the gap between completion rates of children from the more affluent and lower income homes widens. 

Another finding of the report was that girls are less likely to complete their education than boys. While the report doesn’t precisely specify the reasons for this, the example of other countries suggests that the regular hindrances to girls’ education – having to work, run households, falling pregnant, prioritization of boys when funds are limited – are responsible for this statistic. 

At gold-youth, we partner with government in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Quality Education (Goal 4). Quality Education is one of gold-youth’s Core Beliefs, as it is fundamental to economic transformation. This in turn plays a key role in supporting young people to make informed choices for their future.  

Quality education is not possible without addressing the social challenges facing young people in communities where unemployment and youth risk behaviour is high. For this reason, the gold Peer Education model assists students with their educational goals in tangible ways. Academic Support helps students with numeracy and reading for meaning, even in situations where the formal school structure is no longer a part of the day-to-day reality in a young person’s life.  

Since 2004, gold-youth has trained over 27000 Peer Leaders, reaching over 64 000 Peers. Our impact assessment shows that between 2018 to 2022, youth in the gold Programme have achieved a 31% increase in school performance and commitment to education; their risk behaviour has reduced by 43% and they are 50% more employable. 

Zimbabwe’s education system faces challenges, but we see youth as agents of change in their schools and communities. gold-youth is there to assist them in overcoming these challenges and receiving an education that sets them up for future success that benefits everyone.