Stephen Mpofu, Perspective
“Look before you leap,” so goes the age-old adage.
Granted, only God the Almighty boasts precise, pre-knowledge about the future of a person or a nation.
But be that as it may, had Zimsec allowed the altruism above to be instructive to it that educational body would have had an inkling of an idea, if not a complete idea, of the reaction it would harvest from the public over the increased examination fees for Ordinary and Advanced Level candidates which the Government has since annulled.
As things turned out, the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council leaped before looking, as it were, and landed in a thicket of thorns if the furore it provoked as shown by angry public reactions is anything to consider.
Actually, this writer wonders if Zimsec, by announcing the increased exam fees before consulting with stakeholders, did not land in its humiliating leap on spikes camouflaged by thorns, in the form of political opponents to the Government who might use the cancelled examination fees — of $190 for an O-Level subject from $15 and $351 per subject from $25 for A-Level students — to cause mortal harm to the image of the ruling Zanu-PF and its Government.
The Government has ordered the examinations body to revert to exam fees approved in 2015.
But surely should not a decision affecting thousands and thousands of young, school-going Zimbabweans been made with the prior approval of Cabinet as representing our Republican Government so that it could have been established if full consultations with relevant stakeholders had been made before the now-infamous leap into the thicket bush?
It is to be hoped that those self-anointed gurus who constitute Zimsec have been subjected to salient pep talk so that they may act in future in ways that should not make them candidates for wrapped knuckles.
As every Zimbabwean, including those who constitute the Zimsec body should know, education happens to be the kernel of the future of thousands of young boys and girls who now trudge to school every morning and who will make up one body of knowledge and another of skills to drive the economy of the motherland into a brave new future for all.
All things considered, the decision to increase examination fees for an efficient conduct of exams is not at all a bad decision.
What is undisputedly bad in the case in point is the timing of those increases when the economy is virtually on its knees due primarily to the illegal Western sanctions intended by the enemies of the Zanu-PF government to effect regime change as punishment for land reforms legitimately introduced to reunite the people of this country with land stolen from them by their racist, Rhodesian colonisers in a desperate bid to sneek into power themselves by hook or by crook.
One might even go further here and suggest that the Political Actors’ Dialogue should in future have its opinion tested on increased schools as well as examination fees are concerned, the same way that Polad has an important say collectively in the development of our country’s economy.
If in future Zimsec again increases examination fees willy-nilly, children in rural areas where parents, who are more disadvantaged than those in urban areas with parents in gainful employment, will obviously drop out of school and live from hand to mouth with some of them resorting to crime to try and keep body and soul together, or flock out of the country in search of greener pastures elsewhere.
Education is a constitutional right for every Zimbabwean child, for it is the young of today on whose shoulders the future of this country, including governance, will rest when today’s leaders, most of whom boast high education and high qualifications, have become defunct.
A higher education double-edged with a body of knowledge and a body of skills, respectively, is undoubtedly wont to make Zimbabwe — as it will other poor nations — a mighty gladiator against all forms of under-development.