Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Educational quality : South Africa vs. Zimbabwe

Posted by CM on June 20, 2007

SA education ‘among worst in world’

Kennedy Mudzuli and Steven Tau

South Africa has one of the worst educational systems in the world, according to a World Economic Forum report. In fact, the quality of education received by South African pupils is considered even worse than that provided by the Zimbabwean school system.

The report indicated the country’s quality of education was 100th best, compared with Zimbabwe’s 40th. In the quality of maths and science education, South Africa was ranked 120th, with Zimbabwe 71st.

This is a report in the South African Citizen newspaper. It is fascinating that whatever the historical/political reasons for the differences between the levels of education in the neighbouring countries, there should continue to be such a stark difference in favour of Zimbabwe today. For close to ten years Zimbabwe has been experiencing all sorts of upheavals, while for more than that period of time South Africa has enjoyed political stability and robust economic growth.

Among many things, it tells us the long-term effects of events. Education was neglected, disrespected and disrupted for the majority in apartheid South Africa, while in both Rhodesia and Zimbabwe a lot of attention was once paid to it. Despite South Africa’s normalising, it is going to take time for things requiring long-term investment like education to catch up. In the case of Zimbabwe’s decline, it seems like the benefits of the emphasis on education have for now withstood the economic decline.

But just as South Africa’s education will presumably improve with continuing political stability and economic growth, Zimbabwe’s trouble’s will inevitably show up in rankings such as this one in the coming years.


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