14 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Country Leads in Africa Literacy Race

Harare — Zimbabwe has overtaken Tunisia as the country with the highest literacy rate in Africa despite the numerous problems that continue to dog the country's once enviable education sector.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) latest statistical digest, the southern African country has a 92 per cent literacy rate up from 85 per cent.

Tunisia remains at 87 per cent. Post independence Zimbabwe's education was heavily subsidised by government resulting in vast improvements from the colonial system.

Zimbabwean graduates are well sought after throughout the world.

But with the country's economic collapse blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies, children have been dropping out of school and teachers are leaving in droves to neighbouring countries.

However, the formation of a unity government between Mr Mugabe and his former arch rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year has brought a glimmer of hope.

The government with the help of donors is currently involved in a massive project to print textbooks that would see the pupil/textbook ratio going to one for every subject before the end of the year.

"The latest UNDP statistical digest was published last month and shows our country surpassing all African countries," the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Washington Mbizwo told the Herald newspaper.

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