Thanks to the government’s efforts in education in the 1980s, Zimbabwe today has one of South Africa’s best education systems; about 92% of the adult population (over 15 years) is literate (2009). However, the level of education is declining rapidly as a result of the economic crisis, reduced government grants, high school fees and poor quality school materials.
The primary school, which starts at age 6 and is 7 years old, is officially compulsory, but attendance cannot be controlled. The proportion of children who start primary school is reported to have dropped from 80% in 2001 to 65% in 2006. Secondary school is either 4-year-old (with O-level graduation) or 6-year-old (with A-level degree granting admission to university). The education system has a distinctly British character.
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Until 1990, the country had only one university, in the capital Harare, but then was founded in Bulawayo, the largest city in the area of the Ndebele minority, a national university of science and technology. There are also two private universities. In addition, there are a number of colleges, primarily teacher education institutions. In 2002, only 4% of the population underwent higher education. Since the 1990s, the government has gained increasingly stronger control over the universities, and government-critical student demonstrations are now commonplace.
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Internal contradictions and financial problems
The PF government also included some white ministers so that the pre-independence rivalry would not hamper the national reconstruction that followed an ambitious development plan. GDP increased by 7%, agricultural production hit historic records and there was a significant expansion in popular consumption. But there were also problems that would later complicate the country’s development. One was one of South Africa’s economic boycott, which prevented Zimbabwe from being able to export its production. The second was the internal rivalry between Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, which in 1981 culminated in the removal of Nkomo from the post of interior minister and made minister without territory.
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Tensions increased. In 1982, Nkomo supporters created an armed movement, which they called “Super-ZAPU”. Political tensions coincided with the beginning of a severe drought, which in 1983 caused agricultural production to fall from 2 million tonnes (in 81) to 620,000.
At the same time, Zimbabwe was facing a difficult land problem. The large black population was pushing for land reform, but this was contrary to the Lancaster House agreement, which prevented the expropriation of white settlers’ property. At the same time, the country was undermined by England and the United States, as both countries refused to provide promised assistance for land acquisition and distribution among the black population. In Matabele country, Nkomo’s supporters explained the drought and the lack of appropriations for land acquisition as a maneuver by Mugabe against the Ndebele people – the second large population group next to the Shona people. This promoted tribal contradictions.
At the end of 85, Mugabe’s ZANU party won the elections widely throughout the country, except in Matabele. At the same time, most of the whites voted on Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front, prompting the president to recall that the rights the whites had been granted with the Lancaster House deal would not last forever.
In addition to their political privileges, which would later be eliminated, the white privileges reflected especially in the ownership of the land. Acc. In a technical study, 4,500 farmers – almost all white – owned half of the country’s productive land, while 4½ million farmers lived on common land – the so-called “tribal lands”. They had been displaced to these lands during the colonial period. These were poor soils, located in areas with sparse rain and lack of infrastructure. The Union of Commercial Farmers formed by whites blocked a large number of the government’s attempts to change the agricultural structure. It was considered almost untouchable as its members accounted for 90% of agricultural production, paid a third of its wages in the country and accounted for 40% of its exports.
In September 87, two amendments were made to the Constitution. First, the reservation of 20 seats in the National Assembly and 10 in the Senate was abolished to the whites. Second, the executive power was transferred to the president to be elected by parliament for a 6-year term.
At the international level, Mugabe played a key role in the implementation of the Alliance Free Countries Summit in the capital Harare that month. Here he spoke vigorously for the implementation of total sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Furthermore, the government of Zimbabwe provided significant support to Mozambique in its fight against the counter-revolutionary RENAMO movement. By May 87, 12,000 Zimbabwean soldiers had been deployed to Mozambique, and the counter-revolutionaries responded with several attacks into Zimbabwe this year and beyond.