Are Zimbabweans Really Learned?

Are We Mistaking Our Literacy Rate With The Quality of Our Education?

So everywhere you go you hear this “maZimbabweans akadzidza” Zimbos are learned. While we may agree that Zimbos are woke, we have to concede to the fact that literacy is difficult to measure. According to academics at Africa Check disputing Robert Mugabe’s 2015 claims said measuring literacy rate is risky and while debunking the notion that literacy rate in Zimbabwe is above 90% they wrote this article.

The last time research was done on Zim’s literacy rate, here were the results of some Zimbabwean organisations:

Zimbabwe’s National Statistics Agency’s estimated that 97.6% of people 15 years and older were literate in 2014. The agency considers a person to be literate if they have completed three years of primary education. But this does not necessarily mean that a person can read or write.

In 2011, Zimbabwe’s Demographic and Health Survey estimated that 96% of men aged 15 to 54 and 94% of women aged 15 to 49 were literate. A person was considered literate if they had reached secondary school (generally aged 15 and older) or could read a whole sentence or part of a sentence in a reading test.

According to the Source: UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, Zimbabwe’s literacy rate is ranked number 10 in Africa. These are people who are considered literate because they have attended secondary school (generally aged 15 and older) or can read a whole sentence in a reading test. Using this bar, it means we trail behind 9 countries on this note.

Are we overstating our capabilities as a nation? Are we really learned? Does being learned start and end in school? Some would argue that we have learnt through exposure much more than other countries as we have learnt to navigate and survive through a 20-year economic meltdown. Some would argue that that’s where our wokeness and our seemingly educated background come from.

What is Zimbabwe’s position in the world educationally?

Before we call ourselves lets look at global statistics education-wise.

The World Economic The Global Information Technology Report 2016 said Zimbabwe was number 4 in terms of quality of Math and Science in Africa. Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Mauritius take the lead.

However, our literacy rate according to the latest statistics(2016) listed up there still trails behind 9 countries in Africa according to the UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics. 

The is no university from Zimbabwe that appears on this list of top universities in AfricaUniRank has 200 Universities and UZ, MSU and AU are the only universities that appear on that list.  On other lists, only UZ appears.

Zimbabwe doesn’t rank in the first 2000 world universities.

Are Zimbabweans Really Learned?

In 2016 a report said around 30000 students graduate from tertiary education in Zimbabwe a number that has surely risen by now. Yes, Zimbabweans went to school and they do have their papers.

Yes, Zimbabweans are witty in terms of math and science. Yes, Zimbabweans are critical thinkers a skill they learnt through navigating in murky economic waters for 2 decades. If that doesn’t make us rank higher on some list, then I don’t know what will.

However, innovations, investments, research impact and international outlook can still be improved. as most rankers consider this when ranking a university, an economy or the education index of a particular country.




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3 comments on “Are Zimbabweans Really Learned?


  2. Africa Check suffers a lot from exceptionalistic-South African epistemic poisoning. it does harp on the obvious in cataloging the many ways literacy is measured. I do also believe Zimbabweans think themselves intellectually superior out of plain jingoism. the charge that Zimbabweans are largely “woke” is laughable given our steep regression to superstition, partial dynasticism, anti-blackness by the most educated of us, historical negationism by the opposition, petty and predatory entrepreneurism, pandering to the west etc. I can say that most of us are midly educated, functional and jingoistic.

  3. Mugabe’s policies gave us the aura of being “woke”, he conceded to land demands, renamed our country and cities and yet he still named his child Bellarmine! Grace wasn’t even woke at all. we Zimbos are pseudo-woke, we more like smart bimbos..

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