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You’ll Probably Be Wasting Your Time (And Money) By Going To A Local University In 2017…

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University of Zimbabwe

Preamble: I dropped out of school 3 times; in Grade 7, Form 2 and Lower 6. I’ve never been to university but have proceeded to National Diploma level at Polytechnic. I believe that school is a waste of time and money and if it was up to me, I’d rather have my kids learn how to query Google and find what they want on the internet than ‘waste’ 13 years following outdated curricula.

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After posting an article on what College (or University) one should study in Zimbabwe in 2017, there was an avalanche of comments in our WhatsApp groups, mostly of people trying to defend their turf. Discussions have been on going and most probably will be for the coming weeks as students who just finished writing their Cambridge and Zimsec O and A’ Level exams prepare to look at the next steps on their journey.

Questions such as these may be going through your mind: Should I go to University or College or the Polytechnic? Should I study in Zimbabwe or look for a University in South Africa or as far a field as India or China? Should I repeat (seeing that I failed to get the grades that will get me into a University in Zimbabwe) or should I go out there and compete in the job market with those who have degrees and PHDs? How marketable will I be?

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I’m not able to touch on all of the above questions in this post and what I seek to show is why the option of going to a Zimbabwean University or even Polytechnic is flawed and should be looked down upon but those faced with this decision.

Quality of Lecturers

The brain drain is real. Many of our qualified (and often well sort after) educators have been lured by “greener pastures” and either made the great trek to South Africa, Botswana or even to the United States of America. In search of a better life those who crafted their skills yesteryear and became good at it have opted not to stay and face the challenges that goes with being in Zimbabwe (or whatever other reason it’s camouflaged under) and have left.

Those that remain, through no fault of theirs, can only be as good as what they have been exposed to. With limited resources at their disposal, lecturers are not incentivised to produce high quality graduates that will contribute to the economy. Very few have the bigger picture and see what they doing as having a bearing on the nation and so just do what needs to be done (let the student ‘pass’ and move on to the next level).

Quality of Institutions

I remember in 2008 when I was doing my National Diploma. The height of “burning” took place in during that year and because of the entrepreneurial spirit that was within me then, I failed to attend lessons throughout the year When I saw one of my lecturers just before the exams I advised him that I was not able to write that year and most probably would be dropping out.

His response was “just write the exam. See to it that you put something on the paper. You WILL pass.”

It then dawned on me of how these institutions are just after “high pass rates” that they will be able to brag about and dangle before the eyes of students and parents so that they can choice their institute.

Added to this is the lack of funding that is at their disposal. Whether political or lack of innovation the money just isn’t there to allow them to offer world class learning at a price that Zimbabweans can afford.

Quality of Students

For the past 4 years that I have been involved in recruitment I make sure that I don’t touch a CV with a six yard pole. If you want to make sure that you don’t get a job where I’m working be sure to send in your CV.

If anything, those documents will see a number of people making it to hell all because of their failing to obey the commandment “thou shall not bear false witness”.

How many times have you made a CV and decided to call up a friend or associate and asked them to vouch that you once worked for them and did a sterling job? Or worse still, if you’re in IT/Graphic Design and decided to make your own certificate for a certain course? Ok, sure, I may be the only one, but what I do know is that the proof is in the pudding and 9/10 times people are not able to deliver what they say they can in a CV.

So to save us all the stress of lying on the “first date”, we make it a point not to look at a CV ever.

Added to this has been my involvement with University students for attachment. There’s been a number of them and their level of ignorance on a topic one would expect them to know leaves a lot to be desired. When I come into contact with such people I thank the heavens that I didn’t make it to University else this is what would have become of me…

For many, their mindset of WHY they are going to University is what is warped.

Some are doing it due to pressure from their parents, society, their peers others are going as they believe that that paper (a degree) will open many doors for them. This has not been the case in Zimbabwe, at least for some time now.  What we have definitely seen in Zimbabwe is that a degree is not a ticket to a job. Most times it just shows that someone was able to cram content for an exam and not necessarily show their ability to grasp the concepts that were taught throughout the 4 years.

Delaying the inevitable

With the way the job market is depressed not only in Zimbabwe but worldwide, chances of one doing something totally different to what they studied are high (I’m a qualified Civil Engineering technician as well as holder of a diploma in Transport and Logistics, very unrelated to what i do now). There are a number of us.

Unfortunately the way the educational system that we inherited from the colonial regime works is that you go to school and get taught how to be a good employee and once finished schooling they’d be a job waiting for you that allows you to do just that – ‘follow orders from your employer’. We were not taught to be our own bosses and how to manage our own companies, why just being allowed to work in certain industries was a privilege as they were reserved for certain races.

Long and short of it, there are no jobs waiting for you when you’re done with that degree, unless you are being sent to school by your employer, when you’re done studying you’ll be out on the street looking for a job and most probably needing to change careers from what you were qualified in.

Costs of Studying

Along with the cost of many things education is not cheap in Zimbabwe. Well the quality education. Universities charge from $1,300/year upwards which translates to R19,500 BEFORE food and accommodation, let alone course material. We’re said to be one of the more costly places to study and from a value for money perspective I’d definitely not recommend one employing this route for their higher education.

For the same value I could get:

12 months of TelOne ADSL (Unlimited package) $81 = $972

or

ZOL Fibre Internet (Unlimited package) $150   = $1,800

With this internet access (which can be paid monthly and not two lump sum payments every semester) one is able to have access to Google and YouTube where they can access anything and everything.

When you don’t understand a method that one tutor uses, to change a tutor you simply hit the NEXT button and move on to someone else who can break it down for you in a way that you can digest. This is not possible at University, where it is often the “take it or leave it approach”.

This option might not be the best for those who are practical based (studying medicine) but then those professions are very hands on and may prove to be difficult to scale. Try not to get into something that needs you directly and will not continue when you die.

If you’re interested in exploring the option of furthering your education using the internet you could have a look at these $10 courses on offer at Udemy (promotion valid until 10 January 2017).

UPDATE: For a response to this article from a lecturer at a local university you can go here: 5 Critical Reasons That Will Make You Go To University… 


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90 thoughts on “You’ll Probably Be Wasting Your Time (And Money) By Going To A Local University In 2017…

  1. Well, guys we just have to agree that the the Zimbabwean university education system is being administered by no-so-relevant people. Technologies and methods have changed and are changing rapidly. The core of any modern university education should be to rope in relevant people who are knowledgeable in international best practices and they should not attempt to teach university students the actual certifications because the semesters are usually very short and too cramped but to point out to them the relevant stuff and model their courses in such a way that will fire interest and passion to pursue more in their chosen field of specialty. For example a course on databases should be taught by a qualified Oracle specialist and a web development course should be taught by a qualified Java or PHP developer. This will bridge the gap between relevance and academic. So all in all, certified and experienced people should be the ones lecturing though I doubt whether the universities and colleges would allow that because I understand you have to have a Masters or PhD to be a lecturer. But again there is to be a dual system in which a course is administered by both an academic and a certified specialist hence there has to be a very close relationship between academic institutions and industry. We have to see more of corporate guys in the lecture rooms. I think this system will make university education more effective and give graduates a more competitive edge.

  2. i’m beginning to think that TechZim writers are underachievers who are bitter about higher level education they couldnt get.

    1. u can say that again……i am a LSU Yes.(LUPANE STATE university Graduate From Bulawayo) And i got a job in Estonia…..i hv been there for the past 4 months….i m considered very highly educated bra

  3. funny enough get a newspaper there are 10 vacancies n first thing they say a degree from a reputable varsity or any other wat wat IF IT WASNT AS IMPORTANT AS YOU SAY IT IS THEN COMPANIES WOULDNT WANT IT AS A QUALIFICATION FIRST. My point is luk at yo bosses he got a degree in something. Your article is based on assumptions really.

  4. i hold a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery degree. i dont intend on upgrading my education cause it just improves my c.v. and gets me a higher paying job.
    i am happy the way i am now cause i am free financially. slowly but surely i am building my own business empire and employing other people.
    this sounds cruel, but financially others are meant to employ and others are meant to be employees. we both need each other.
    one should do what feels right for them.

  5. I agree with the author that you do not necessarily need to have a degree to attain greatness. I would also add that you do not necessarily need a certification too.

    A great portfolio would be more important. I know of quiete a big number of software/programming companies such as google, Ms, facebook who are more interested in your github portfolio than your certification or degree

    And some repetition for emphasis: The world has witnessed some great CEOs who did not have any ‘papers’ such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs. I would add that some of the greatest programmers did not have ‘papers’ too and the likes of Jeffrey Way and one of the lead programmers hired by Ms to develop the first wordprocessing program quickly come to mind.

    However it should be noted that unlike most of our school dropouts, these ‘paperless’ guys would have gulped dozens & dozens of management, design patterns, algorithms etc literature (depending on their area of interest)

    In conclusion, most of us we did not make it bcoz we didnt follow our passion & live it. Whether mucup yesimbi, yedhaka or muglass tea unogona kumwiramo. What is important is kubikwa kwe tea (living your passion)

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