HARARE – The number of candidates taking Ordinary Level examinations in Zimbabwe has fallen by 50% in five years since 2017 according to statistics owing to the biting economy.
The number of candidates sitting for the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) ‘O’ level examinations has decreased from 332,473 in 2017 to 163,179 in 2021.
In 2018 alone, a total of 239,441 candidates sat for the exams, while in 2019 the number increased slightly to 296,464 but decreased to 184,289 in 2020.
The president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Takavafira Zhou, attributed the decline in the number of “O” level applicants in the country to high levels of poverty experienced under Zanu PF.
“The issue that is clear is that there is increasing poverty and a considerable number of poor parents are failing to pay school fees resulting in a high dropout rate of candidates. We have more than 169 000 children who drop out of school on a yearly basis and these are not necessarily candidates,” he said.
Zhou also provided a damning figure of school children being impregnated or forced to get married by their parents owing to financial constraints.
“Between 2020 and 2021 an estimated 20 000 girls were impregnated during the COVID-19 lockdown period, and it’s most likely that those girls did not have the opportunity to continue with their education.
“The whole essence hinges on poverty and failure by government to assists children from poor backgrounds,” Zhou said.
Zimbabwe has been reeling under an economic crunch due to high levels of corruption and failed policies under the Zanu PF government which is currently led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Inflation in the troubled southern African nation has been soaring over the years with the latest figures for April showing a crisis that is cooking for the authorities.