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Literacy rate drops in Zimbabwe

14 Jun 2013

Zimbabwe’s once celebrated high literacy rate has sharply plummeted, a report realised by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) has revealed.

According to the 2011/12 report Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey (PICES) Report, officially launched on Thursday by the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti, the economic hardships that the country experienced for the past decade led to the decline in literacy rate.

“The literacy rate is higher for males 94.4 percent than for females 88.7 percent. The 20-29 age group range has the highest literacy rate 98.0 percent and as expected the literacy rate decline with increasing age confirming that the older generations are relatively rose from 80.4 percent 1992 to a peak of 97.0 percent in the 2002 then declined to 91.3 percent 2011/12.

“This suggests that literacy levels in Zimbabwe could have declined due to the economic hardships experienced hardships experienced in the country from the year 2000 to 2008 as some children were not attending school during that time particularly in 2008,” reads part of the PICES report.

It added:  “The people aged at least 15 years and have completed at least grade 3 are classified as literate. The literacy is the number of persons, who have completed at least grade 3, per 100 population for a particular age category.

“This definition is used across ZIMSTAT surveys and Population Censuses and so the literate rates can be compared over time across surveys. From this definition, it is established that, of those aged 15 years and above, 91.3 percent were literate.”

The Poverty and Poverty Datum Line Analysis in Zimbabwe 2011/12, which was also officially launched on Thursday by the finance minister, reported that Zimbabwe made huge achievements in education in the first decade after independence, however, “currently the education sector has been negatively affected by lack of adequate resources and a huge brain drain which occurred during the economic crisis,” reads the report.

The Poverty and Poverty Datum Line Analysis in Zimbabwe access to secondary education remains limited for many Zimbabweans, but the poor suffer from the lowest enrolment rates of all. “Whilst the country has made large investments in secondary school infrastructure and teacher training, majority of the children in need of secondary education do not benefit from this investment, especially the poor as secondary school decline as poverty increases,” reads the report.

The report says a programme to expand access to secondary education by the poor should therefore, be considered.

“In rural areas, access to education is worse than in urban areas, and some of the implicit subsidies in the education system flow disproportionately to urban areas,” the report says.

It added: “Government might have to increase its investment in education in rural areas so as to increase participation therein by the rural poor increase rural returns to education and provide increased incentives for educational investments by the rural people.

“There is also need to prioritise economic diversification and employment generation in both urban and rural areas and provide support to the informal sector.”