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The public education system in Zimbabwe includes thirteen years of schooling, including seven primary and six secondary school grades.

Primary and secondary education in Zimbabwe is overseen by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, while higher education programs in the country are under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, both regulated by the government.

Despite human rights abuses, corruption, and other faults, former President Robert Mugabe declared education to be a basic human right in 1980 and invested heavily in the country's educational system. For a time, both primary and secondary education in Zimbabwe was free and compulsory. As a result, Zimbabwe has the highest adult literacy rates in Africa. There has been a decline in recent years, however. Because of a public health crisis and setbacks in Zimbabwe's economy, the country no longer promises tuition-free secondary education, and fees have been applied to its primary school programs.

Under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Zimbabwe has introduced Early Childhood Development programs n recent years, offering early childhood education to children from three to five. Largely available in urban areas, ECD programs are sometimes offered by the government, or they may be sponsored by churches, organizations, or individuals.

Primary school is mandatory under Zimbabwe law and includes grades one through seven. Primary schools in urban areas generally teach in English, while rural schools may use a local native language. such as Shona or Ndebele, then phase in English by the third grade. Due to teacher shortages, some schools have fifty or more students per teacher.

Upon conclusion of grade seven, students must sit for a national examination that covers mathematics, English, Shona or Ndebele, as well as social sciences, environmental science, and religious education. Examination results may determine the type of secondary school that a student can attend. Urban public schools and private and religious schools generally have admission requirements, but many rural schools allow admission regardless of performance.

At this time, secondary education is not funded by the government, although it had previously been so. Students who continue beyond primary school may attend government boarding schools, government day schools, private boarding schools, religious schools, or international schools, all requiring payment of a fee, although some schools may have sponsors willing to pay all or a portion of the fees.

There are two levels of secondary education in Zimbabwe. After four years, students will have to pass an exam for the General Certificate of Education, also known as the Ordinary Level. Those who continue their secondary education for an additional two years will be awarded the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level upon satisfactory completion of a national examination.

The Ordinary Level exam expects students to pass a minimum of five subjects: science, English, mathematics, history, and a practical subject like agriculture or woodworking. Students are graded on a letter scale, which may determine placement in better schools as well as employment opportunities. Students passing the Ordinary Level have an option of enrolling in Advanced Level secondary education or teacher training, technical schools, agricultural schools, polytechnic, or nurses training.

Those who choose for A-Level secondary school will have to pass another test in two years, after completing six years of secondary school, which is a requirement for admission to universities in Zimbabwe.

University and tertiary schools are operated by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. These include universities, technical schools, polytechnic, and teacher training colleges, as well as various vocational training institutions.

The oldest university in the country is the University of Zimbabwe, which was created in 1957 as the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In recent years, several additional universities have opened, both public and private.

Despite an early effort to increase education in Zimbabwe after achieving independence, the demand soon became greater than the cash-strapped nation was able to supply. The quality and availability of education have been hampered by teacher shortages and economic difficulties, on the part of the government and parents who are asked to invest in their children's education. Tuition fees and other costs place education out of reach for many families in Zimbabwe. There is no reason to suspect that the government no longer values education, so it might be assumed that, as Zimbabwe's economy improve, so will the education that it offers to its people.



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