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

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rather have my kids learn how to query Google and find what they want on the internet than ‘waste’ 13 years following outdated curricula.

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?

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


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… 

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

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

  1. This is a good read, but I argue that going to university is a west of time. I’m a product of the university and I graduated with a first class not because I crammed things for the exam but I was passionate about my subject I was studying. Going to university I knew what I wanted to be and I applied for that thing and got it, it’s not because I didn’t have internet to search for the things and study from home. What I went to university to do was to shape my career and to grasp the concepts of what I wanted to do, which is like having a mentor who gives you advice on certain things. While I was at university I used to search for the concepts that I would have heard in the lecture on the internet and study more about it. Our universities have managed to subscribe for international journals which have relevant information and content and the journals are substituting the old books you were talking about. Now I’m an expert in my field because of the university foundation that I got plus the information I gather from online learning. My conclusion is that, what you go to the university to do is not to gain 100% of the things that you want your professional life to be but to have a foundation of understanding what you want to get into.

    1. I firmly believe had you NOT had a chance to go to uni you STILL would have been doing what you’re doing. Your passion would have ensured it. Give or take a company or two that insists on hiring graduates. The path might have been different but the destination the same.
      I argue that your degree simply entitled you(or rather gave you the confidence or affirmation) to call yourself by a certain title… distinctions show you knew most of the stuff you were taught, it was in you already… so in fact it CAN be said to be a waste of time… you could have been further by now

    2. I’m sorry to say this, but I take 1st class degrees with a pinch of salt. I believe a 1st class degree should be awarded on a rare basis to outstanding students who would have contributed to the body of knowledge. I’m not saying you did not do this, I don’t even know you. My point is most universities are just dishing out 1st class degrees to non deserving students. Depending on the field of study, I believe 1st class should be awarded maybe once every blue moon to a truly outstanding student. Computer Science, Engineering, Maths, Science in general should see rare awarding of 1st class degrees. Are all these 1st class degrees being awarded by all these institutions in Zimbabwe worth it, no. Hire a 1st class degree holder and you will discover 1st hand the classification is not worth it. This is what William is pointing to, our universities are shipping out guys with great papers that are not worth their weight in salt, and this is happening en masse every year

      1. You are confusing education and being work ready. That’s why some univerisites like NUST have an attachment period, so that the student prepares to be work ready. The university education system teaches concepts to be applied when at work. It’s one thing to learn file-systems & database concepts and another to be a Oracle DBA. There is a higher specificity of knowledge required which no university curriculum can prepare you for. It is unrealistic to produce a student who can be a DBA, Programmer, System Administrator, 3D Modeller, Game Developer, Web Designer, Systems Integrator and Hardware Technician, without further training/learning. A first class degree is not awarded willy nilly as you would like to make it seem. I’m curious how many individuals with first class degrees you have encountered, or are generalising a specific occurrence/individual.

        1. Note, I don’t expect a fresh graduate to be a DBA, but if you come to me with an Oracle certification and can’t perform basic tasks then we have a problem. A lot of people are using exam dumps to get certifications. Just look at how the Cisco certifications are being attained. I do agree with you that graduates need training after graduation, which is why 1st class degrees should not be given just like that, because they mean you are exceptional and can grasp concepts quickly. If you doubt 1st class degrees are being given out willy nilly especially in technical subjects, check out the year books of UZ and MSU for their last graduations. And please do share the number of individuals who had 1st class degrees. I highly doubt they are all exceptional, if any are exceptional

        2. the whole concept of trying to work for somebody is wrong
          innovative and idealistic people in our society have avoided this path of ‘trying to w0rk for somebody’ im talking about very successful people as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs all excelled without these ‘crucial degrees’
          These guys figured out that the mind and body work and can achieve the sort of ideas they held better in their youthful phase of life before the older age and more responsiblity and all sorts
          Now this what the university has being playing as stumbling block to develop these ideas fit for niche business. This is so because one spends up to 4 years in university, they probably had enough of learning and are better of want to find a job settle down and find a partner and have family. Typical of us africans and we cannot run away from that fact
          By not wasting time in calving our ideas ripe after uni where probably we may be unfit incompetent and too engulved with resposibility and other eco-social factors to visit back those special ideas and dreams; it be better we exploit that time when we are youthful and explore those special God-given gifts before we tire out.
          Im an A-level student and as part of my study i discovered even some facts i was learning in my the books where already being criticised on facetimes as National Geographic and other reseach platforms but in zim they are still subject to questioning by Zimsec

      2. At undergraduate level a 1st class degree has nothing to do with contribution to the body of knowledge. The purpose of an undergraduate degree is to give a student the necessary foundation in the field of their study. They are taught about the basic pillars of their discipline of choice based on what has been agreed by people who are called experts in that particular field. So if it was a chemistry, you are taught the four pillars of chemistry i.e organic, physical, inorganic and analytical. The knowledge that you are given is basically what you get in a textbook and its the material that has in most cases been scientifically proven. Then at MSc level this is the level where you can get people who produce new body of knowledge but its very rare as well. MSc is all about being prepared for Doctoral studies in most cases. One is given more material of the subject they are studying and they are guided to carry out research. The supervisor guides the students greatly maybe more than 70% of the time during this level. Then you get to the PhD level. This is when you are required to produce new body of knowledge and the supervisor contributes very little to whatever the student will be doing.

    3. You said you don’t believe ” university is a WEST of time ” and you’ve a 1st class

      It just sums it all

      1. kkkk nowhere in the world are marks deducted for grammar at that level boss.wasvika pane tht level of reasoning its the content that matters not how good your grammar is. kana wanzwisisa his idea then mission accomplished…ur probly one of those kids who still laughs at broken english or different accents 🙂 #TrollingButTrue

      2. I’d assume English is not his mother tongue, and that he didn’t go to university to get a degree in English. Choosing to focus on a spelling than on the content of the comment, speaks volumes about you rather than him.

  2. Hi….l just completed my O’Level in 2015. So what do u suggest l do if u are saying going to school is a waste of time and money? Because l do not have a business mind

  3. I remember when I went to college some 8 years ago. It was’nt really for the degree .. I knew would get on anyway but the chief reason was to be exposed and grow up.

    1. thank you Ron. Personally l think University equips students with versatile skills not only micro linked to academics. its saddening that writer wants to boost his business by discouraging young minds to explore varsity and opt for his blurred business. Zimbabwe is not a normal economy for the time being but that will not last forever

  4. Not to mention that after a lecture you STILL need to trawl YouTube anyway to help understand what you were “taught”

    I have started so no turning back now…

  5. I think Bill, you took a simplistic view of Zimbabwean educatio or rather of the education system as a whole. The article lacks depth in terms of factual analysis besides making reference to the most abused term, a political rhetoric, on colonial masters.

  6. I went to school up to “O” Levels, then l had to make a quick decision in the situation l was in either:

    1. Continue educating myself through formal ways of A levels then University
    2. Chase a career via professional courses etc..

    I opted for otion 2, looking back now and all the people around me who are very educated, l do not regret my choice at all. Its the most fulfilling thing l have ever done.

    Both are good, but if you are on budget, Uni is going to be a hard grafting hoping for good future returns.

    If Uni education was that good, with all the graduates being produced, why is Zimbabwe have nothing to show for it. We even import match sticks, all the basic stuff, where is our graduates?

    Our education is not fit for purpose! It was designed to provide labour to an already striving industry and markets, hence a lot of our graduates easily find jobs abroad which have markets in place to take them.
    It is not designed to produce engineers who can make and design manufacturing industries, geophysists who can make sense of our minerals etc.

    1. When you talk about the economy you talking about the global political economy. You talking about global markets and trade. Zimbabwe can’t compete in the international industry because it doesn’t have the industries and even it did have the industries the production cost still wouldn’t be enough to compete with the international industries. Let’s say Zim produces steel for 4 dollars when SA produces the same steel for 2 dollars, already Zim is disadvantaged because people will always prefer the cheaper goods so producing becomes more expensive than importing so what does Zim do? It imports then resell cutting down on costs. USAs TVs, IPhones and even Nike is made in China because China produces at a cheaper cost so USA rather import then resell. Basically graduates have nothing to do with the economy. The political economy is a topic on its own which excludes graduates. ??

      1. Well political economy isn’t a topic for non-graduates, Tawanda, lol. I know of people who never went to varsity, have good careers and are generally successful but still want to pursue varsity education. Don’t be fooled. Sometimes its not even a question of how much you have in the bank — it may be just a psychological feeling that “something” is missing. Nobody is forced to go to varsity but attacking graduates for the for the sorry state of an economy is ignorance of the highest level.

        1. Whether you go to uni or not, the ultimate go is to earn more and be happy. Im yet to see people who go to Uni for the fun of it.

      2. Zim graduates have definitely nothing to do with economy because they have nothing economical to offer.
        In other parts of the world, l mean Western countries, best economist are from best Universities. Those who drive economies like bankers are also from best Universities, so lm not sure where your claims are coming from saying graduates have nothing to do with economy.

    2. If other educational alternatives are so good, why are we still importing matches? You don’t have to go to university to make match sticks, do you? So don’t shoulder the blame of lack of development of the educational system, you are a functioning member of society as well.

      You can’t go around designing industries if no one contracts you to do it. No one is building new plants, this has nothing to do with the graduate or non-graduate. It economics and politics at play.

      A geophysicist cannot “trespass” on land to prospect minerals. You have to get a claim or permit to do so. They aren’t easy to get, and this too has nothing to do with one being a graduate or not.

      If you follow the careers of graduates who left the country, some of them have done and are doing these things and more.

  7. “You’ll probably be wasting your time by going to a LOCAL UNIVERSITY”. You only mentioned why you’ll be wasting your time to go to UNIVERSITY and not a LOCAL UNIVERSITY. You totally abandoned your topic. With the topic you should’ve touched on local and international universities, compared the two. and stated why international universities are better than local universities in terms of education, exposure and facilities. That whole “local lecturers aren’t exposed” view goes to EVERY lecturer in the world. Lecturers in the U.K. will teach African studies but they never grew up in Africa or even been to Africa so how are they exposed? By reading material on google like you right? Which is something graduates do too. Lol smh you didn’t even balance your argument. Made it sound like university people don’t use google and rely on the lecturers content alone. Graduates do use google too buddy but like most people on the internet you stated YOUR opinion which “probably” insulted YOUR intelligence which makes your argument null and void.

    1. Exactly. This writer is on a roll. 2 clickbait articles in a day. Kkkkkk gone are the days when techzim was reliable source of well researched articles. No research has been done in this article and its basically a rant against university education. The topic is interesting but we can’t debate it with you because you’ve barely mentioned any facts to begin with. Smh. Disappointing.

  8. Title- “You’ll Probably Be Wasting Your Time (And Money) By Going To A Local University In 2017…”
    Preamble – “…I have never been to university …” followed by an article based on fully on the author’s opinion of university education.

    Guy. really?

  9. I feel sorry for anyone who applies for a job at your company; clearly from your article you have an issue with anything university related. Having said that; there’s a general misunderstanding of what a university education is supposed to do/ bring to the graduate. You are not necessarily supposed to be what you learnt in college. college is supposed to mold your intellect. I am a scientist, after university I went through a graduate traineeship after which the company drafted me into a certain department based on my interests and their assessments. I know of a number of companies that would, for example, employ an engineer and teach them financial accounting on the job.

    The point here is that as much as you have a valid point on the resources of our tertiary institutions you fail to appreciate the opportunities that a university degree will give you. We have many entrepreneurs around who went to university (in Zimbabwe) for that matter. It all depends on an individual’s drive and desire to pursue their interests.

  10. I feel sorry for anyone who applies for a job at your company; clearly from your article you have an issue with anything university related. Having said that; there’s a general misunderstanding of what a university education is supposed to do/ bring to the graduate. You are not necessarily supposed to be what you learnt in college. college is supposed to mold your intellect. I am a scientist, after university I went through a graduate traineeship after which the company drafted me into a certain department based on my interests and their assessments. I know of a number of companies that would, for example, employ an engineer and teach them financial accounting on the job.

    The point here is that as much as you have a valid point on the resources of our tertiary institutions you fail to appreciate the opportunities that a university degree will give you. We have many entrepreneurs around who went to university (in Zimbabwe) for that matter. It all depends on an individual’s drive and desire to pursue their interests.

  11. I don’t agree with everything William says, but he has a good argument on some issues.

    The first is the awarding of degrees to non-deserving students. I have met a Software Engineering student who can’t code and has no interest in coding and she is going into her final year. Probably she will get the degree and maybe with 2.1 or 1st class. This is an example of how degrees are being dished out by our institutions.

    The second point is on the importance of skills rather than qualifications. This is true not just for degree holders, but also for professional qualification holders. You can cheat your way to a degree or use exam dumps for a certification, but the skills gap will eventually show. When hiring, I think the emphasis should be on skills. So yes, ignore whatever lies are on the CV and send the candidate a coding challenge or online assessment, followed by a white board coding interview

    1. The Software Engineering student is supposed to understand the concepts of coding and programming constructs such as for loops, if/else and so on… NOT to be a top-notch coder, it’s not a programming course. For some reason it is perceived that IT degrees create programmers only, they also create Project Managers, IT Managers, Sys Admins, DBA, 3D Modellers e.t.c.. Besides that, you have not given an example of a degree being dished out, because you are speculating that she is going to be awarded her degree in the first place, and the on top of that it’ll will be 2.1 or 1st class degree. There’s no substance but, rather a show of personal disdain.

      1. Firstly, the foundations of CS are Mathematics and Programming. Yes, you have have to have some grasp of coding to be awarded a CS degree. You might not be top notch, but you have to have an understanding of the concepts. Now, for a software Engineering degree, you can’t tell me it’s ok to come out of there blank on coding concepts. You mentioned the Project Manager career, interesting, just wondering how you will manage software development projects without having coded professionally before. You are right, there are many career options for CS graduates, but for Software Engineering I think you will be aiming for coding and testing jobs. Maybe, once you get a feel of the real industry you will have a change of mind on the quality of graduates.

        1. Project Management is part of Software Engineering, not vice-versa. A Project Manager does not need to have coded or understand coding to be a successful project manager. By seperation and delegation of duties, the coding part of the project is the programmers concern. The Project Manager understanding coding has no bearing whatsoever on the programmer completing their assigned task on time. So, yes, it is okay to have a little or no understanding of coding. I’ll reiterate, it’s very presumptuous to say Software Engineer graduates aim for coding and testing jobs. Software engineering doesn’t consist of coding and testing only. Experience on a large-scale software product or project will give you more insight into software engineering in practice, not one man software engineering from spec. to product. And, yes, I have and still work in REAL industry…

          1. Let’s assume you are a Project Manager who has never coded before. How will you understand timelines, coding methodologies or even the deliverable itself. Clearly you are not a coder. Do you expect someone with no construction knowledge/background to be a P.M on a construction site? Of course not, then why would you want this in the coding industry? Yes, there are P.Ms with no idea of coding, same as there are coders who can’t code i.e code monkeys that simply copy and paste from the internet. Dude, the Software Engineering degree is supposed to prepare one for a coding career. Check the HIT online prospectus or the prospectus of any other international university

            1. To be a PM you dont need to have coding experience that is wrong and you also do not need to have a technical background.Project managment is about managing people and relationships.Its more about understanding the business processes rather than the technical know how which is why project managers work with professionals in each of the required fields.
              That having been said you can do courses such as PMP and if you have the money Prince 2 and these will be sufficient to get you any project management job in any company in the world.

              1. PMP is a general qualification, you need solid experience and qualifications in the underlying field to be an effective P.M. The problem we have is once someone has a PMP qualification, we allow them to be a P.M in a field they know jack about. My question still stands, why is it in developed countries, to be a P.M on a construction site, you need a Civil Engineering, Architectural or Quantity Surveying background? Why don’t they pick just anyone with a PMP certification. If you have worked on a large enterprise project, you would understand that developers take advantage of ignorant P.Ms, i.e ones imposed just because they have a PMP qualification. How do you expect to manage a software development project with zero knowledge of development methodologies, patterns and deliverables?

              2. Juke Nuke, Jobs was a marketer and a CEO, he was not a Project Manager. There were qualified P.Ms during his time at Apple. Unqualified P.Ms are a frustration to developers, if this was the case, talent would have left Apple en masse

            2. Clearly you haven’t been part of a project. I am a coder, a very good one at that, FYI. It’s not up to the Project Manager to prescribe development methodologies, that is up to the development team to decide. Understanding timelines has no link to understanding coding or the intricacies of the task at hand. Over time a good project manager learns to estimate how long a task takes by positive and negative feedback from previous projects. For example, when your car is being serviced and they say it’ll take 3 days, that is a timeline. If they said it’ll take 2 weeks, you’d ask “why so long?”, even though you may have never personally serviced a car and may not know what’s involved. From experience servicing your vehicle, you now have knowledge of the fair timeline for the task without holding any experience in executing the actual grunt work. A PM at a constuction site doesn’t require construction knowledge, but prior experience with construction projects though preferable is not a prerequisite. And again, Software Engineering degrees do not create coders only. If you think it does, then you don’t understand software engineering. Coders existed way before software engineering.

              1. I assume you are one of those PHP code monkeys with no respect for the art of programming. Probably, you are more concerned with writing code that works than writing clean code. Yes, a P.M does not decide on methodologies/language/technology. The problem with a P.M with no programming background is the dev team is likely going to lie to him or he won’t have a clue of what devs are talking about, so they take advantage of that. A P.M with no programming background relies on the Scrum Master. Now you say you are a good programmer, that’s confidence, not to take anything away from you, but a good developer does not brag as he understands he has a lot to learn

              2. I work in Dubai. All Project Managers at construction sites are either Quantity Surveyors or Civil Engineers. At ZESA, all Project Managers are Electrical Engineers.

  12. Degrees are not just dished you have to work and get it.Opportunities open when one has a certain level of qualification degrees diplomas O and A level included.Most universities in Zimbabwe have modules which teach entepreneurship,its up to the graduate to set up his or her own company depending on availability of start up capital.Organisations orient new employees about their operations.To be where you are you started somewhere.

    1. I do agree with you! Im now targeting to work for gvt owned companies. What they look first is if you have a degree, then your experience, then professional qualifications hence the need for me to get a degree.

  13. Very shallow and dangerous article. Please consult more real research before making such wild conclusions. I am also quite perturbed by the fact that you seem to think going to school is to then be able to make shit loads of money later on in life.

    1. ko chimwe chii chaungaendera kufazhi besides
      to making shit loads of money later in the future…kkkkkkk

  14. We do not mind you making a living through your website but please take some time and write balanced and factual articles. Since you left school early you can consult some of our English/Research majors from our Local Universities to guide you (LOLest).

  15. no research be careful Techzim may lose its rep with such poorly written stories with no value whatsoever. Maybe you need to go to university cause if this is your output!

  16. Our educational system is a bit flawed in the sense that it teaches people to get good grades at school from grade one up to Uni in order that may get a good paying job and live happily ever after. I never went to a formal school to study Website design and graphic design, but if you see my work portfolio you will be amazed. I started learning to code and design through the Internet, way back in 2008. Now am assisting students from Poly with their project assignments and teaching other people about website development. At work where I am currently attached they call me a computer wizard yet at college l only went as far as ICDL.
    Formal education is just a foundation for developing your potential

    1. dont say it loud you will offend our book graduates who are now selling tomatoes and scratch cards and pass time drinking zed

      1. And, all the self-taught non graduates are gainfully employed earning money to buy our tomatoes?

        1. Of all the people under my watch, l only have one person who have a degree, and l did not directly employ him!!

    2. Let’s see your portfolio. Put up a link please. Agreed, university isn’t the ONLY way to learn to do something, BUT, the difference between self-teaching and curriculum based teaching is the knowledge building process. With curriculum based learning you build on previous knowledge through a structured syllabus. When self-taught it’s easy to skip a lot of fundamental concepts. You could easily be a “graphic designer” who doesn’t understand the colour wheel and complementary colours. Formalised learning also provides proof i.e, a certificate, that your learnt to do or can do something, rather than take someones word for it. Besides that, not everything lends itself well to being self-taught. I honestly don’t think you’d undergo surgery by a surgeon that was self taught from watching youtube videos. FYI: A lot of IT people are called “computer wizards” by people, even the guys that install WhatsApp in town… 😉

        1. First principles don’t solve problems(Q(x + h, f(x + h)). It is the change in the landscape that is making the need of fundamental principles loose their values.You don’t need to go through 4 years at university to be a SQL DBA architect, yu can teach yourself. So with the advancement in Technology the relevance for formal education is slowly diminishing. These are tides of change guys we have to embrace them to avoid frustrations.

          Check the link below for some of the changes already hitting other countries

          1. First principles don’t solve all problems, but form the basis for problem solving. The plus signs there are a fundamental concept you learnt and now overlook 🙁

            You don’t need to go through 4 years at university to be a SQL DBA architect, that’s obvious. But, that’s all you’ll be, because that’s all you learnt to be. A university graduate can try out being a DBA, not like it and try something else IMMEDIATELY. You, on the other hand, have to go and start learning again.

            EY removed degrees as prerequisite, great. They still have to have some criteria for selecting those they’ll vet using online processes. I believe the graduate still has the upper hand here. Since they dropped the requirement, what percentage of their new recruits haven’t attended university vs those that have?

          2. You don’t need to go through 4 years at university to be a SQL DBA architect, yu can teach yourself.

            When you are self-taught, no-one will bother to tell you that relational databases are an application of set theory, which happens to be one of the Mathematics courses covered at University. So you end up being outgunned by the more knowledgeable graduate and you have no idea why.

  17. This is a dangerous and misleading article. TechZim writers are now voicing their opinions without any factual basis and churning them out as fact. Provide real stats on the pros and cons of going to varsity versus not going to varsity.

  18. I rank this article quite high because it comes from a serial school drop out. I would not expect anything better. All the same i will not take most of your points of view

  19. If you ain’t as good as the author is (or thinks he is), go to school and get your degree.

    while it is much better, benefiacial and desirable to be just great at what we do, that is often not enough for most of us. Wearing entrepreneurship blinkers can be detrimental in the most part as more than half businesses started fail…

  20. Speaking from experience i studied IT at University.However the honest truth from my end is that most of the things we were taught were text book material and not meaning to belittle the Zim education system but i basically had to start from the beginning when i started my professional work.I later on decided to do an ERP certification and to be honest for me this has worked out better as compared to what i would have achieved with a degree.I now work for a company that does ERP consulting and has offices in 19 different countries.I work with some of the brightest minds in the world and you will be surprised with the qualifications that they have (some hardly have any degrees/university education) but are really intelligent and have delivered some of the biggest projects in the world.They instead did IT certifications and specialised in their areas.
    At our company a degree is not a prerequisite to get a job but rather an IT certification.
    Basically what i am saying is it all depends on the individual and what you want to pursue.An IT degree at a university might not necessarily be the best option.
    Personally i recommend online courses such as those offered by treehouse and Udemy.These are really hands on and with treehouse you actually work on real scenarios that you will come across in the work environment.
    My personal belief is Technical education is and should be more superior than university education.
    I have ditched my plans for a masters degree and am now focusing on getting more IT certifications in line with where i want to take my career and this has allowed me to focus on where my career will be going in the next coming years.
    It is also important to look at the trend in the market and where the future is going.Some companies are actually considering removing the degree classification from their requirements eg EY.
    I personaly urge people not to follow the normal straight line method of getting a degree and looking for work.So much is changing around the world and in the employment environment that most people need to keep up to date with.Its an argument that most people are not willing to swallow or take in but thats the hush reality.University education might not be the best option.

    1. There are many paths to take when ones wants to pursue an “education”. If you want to be a director or CEO or CFO one day you definitely gonna need that Degree and that MBA. If you want to be an entrepreneur you may wanna skip straight into your dream and learn through other means such as Online courses as you further your cause. You may also be interested artisan jobs and therefore you can go straight to technical/Poly colleges. It is your bed, make it however you like!

      1. Yes i do agree.Just as a heads up our CEO does not have an MBA and so do CEOs of other large corporations which i can gladly give examples and thus to be a director or CEO you do not necessarily need an MBA or a degree.You can also be one with a diploma.
        In my argument i did say “it all depends on the individual”.If you want a degree and an MBA it is indeed up to you.All i am saying is i personally think it is wrong to use an MBA and a degree as a measure for hiring as there is no proven research to say that these are a barometer of success.

      2. And also note that in my argument i said “a university degree might not be the best option”.In particular reference to the IT field and if you do your research well you will understand what i am saying.
        Please note i am by no means saying education is not important.I favour a more technical based approach to learning rather than text book and theory learning.
        We basically need to revamp the education system.

        1. Then you are very lost my brother… A certification is tailor made to teach how to use a certain product, equipment, configure a certain device, or write code in a certain language. It does not teach to understand the techniques behind the underlying operations. For example Cisco, Redhat, Java are all good certifications but underneath the powerful OSPF Algorithms running on a Cisco router lies graph theory,algorithm development and analysis, the Bellman Ford algorithm, the Djikstra algorithm that powers its operations.. what you are just taught by Cisco is to key in some commands to call the OSPF Algorithms on some Internetwork OS.. Which u don’t even understand that implements basic OS principles like deadlock prevention and avoidance running on powerful algorithm designed from Algorithms design and analysis course u don’t understand as well. When a developer sets on a journey to develop a program without understanding the need to empower the program with new intelligent techniques powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning principle which is were the World is today because they only learnt how to write a piece of static code. The need for securing those programs is Why security is taught at University where you never went. The need to then make use of a better data structure for better performance of our implementation as well moving to other NOSQL Databases is wat u learn at University…. That is wy a certification is termed as an added advantage.

          Get your facts right. Don’t mislead people.

    2. There are also certified people who are as dumb a bricks, so be careful!! Whichever method of learning, self-taught, university, polytech, certification, there are those that pull the group down. The educational system is designed to get more specific/specialised as you progress from primary to secondary and tertiary education. Even with the ERP certifications you might find even more specific certifications available. Certification is a level of specialisation, your ERP certification would do very little for you if you were to persue 3D modelling. Your career path with specialisation is also narrowed, so choose your masters/certifications wisely.

      A downside of certifications is that your ERP software being discontiued or bought out can easily leave you with a bunch of worthless certifications. This ACTUALLY happened when Microsoft bought Navision ERP some years back. ;(

      Again, university is not designed to prepare you for every given scenario, a degree is not a job title!

      1. Yes I do agree with you which is why i said the following statements.

        1.”My personal belief is Technical education is and should be more superior than university education” – am sure you will agree with me that 3D is more technical than theory and thus it can be taught outside a university degree.
        2.”It is also important to look at the trend in the market and where the future is going.” – getting a certification doesnt mean you sit and wait for that one system you have to be informed with whats happening around you 24/7 and thus you upskill yourself evry now and then depending on where the industry is going.
        3.”Basically what i am saying is it all depends on the individual and what you want to pursue.” – in this i was basically saying there is no one path and thus we cannot make an argument and say a university degree is always more superior.

        Lastly the question that i think you might address is what do most people expect when they go to university and tif a university degree is not a job then is it worthwhile investing all the money in the degree would you rather not then pursue vocational training e.g. like the ones offered by the agricultural institutions in Zimbabwe the likes of Chibero and Kaguvi.Should the government not place more emphasis on these seeing they focus more on making one more technically capable.

        1. It is just a bit unfortunate that vocational training is looked down upon in Zimbabwe but i think this should have been the major driver of employment in Zimbabwe.Everyone once to get a degree and without that everything stops so it seems.

        2. I think you might be misusing technical. Give it a look up.

          Anyway, the foundations of 3D modelling are in mathematics, vectors, normals, matrices e.t.c. which can be taught outside a degree much like anything else that is taught in a degree. The reverse also holds true, a group of learning subjects can be taken together and made into a degree, for example the SAP Degree.

          You can claim the future is going towards certifications. Some certifications don’t hold value as they are less practical and more of a money making scheme for the software vendor. You can certify in almost anything nowadays, even CMSes, but that doesn’t make you good at it. Certifications easily have the some of the caveats of degrees.

          With respect to career paths, I think degrees offer more flexibility. If you ask most people what they wanted to be in their first year of university, their last year of university and now, you’ll probably get 3 different answers. Certifications narrow your path and decision making. Cisco certified people buy cisco products, not because they are the best, but because they want to maintain relevance in the organisation. Objectivity is lost!

          If you are asked which is the BEST ERP, I’m sure you’d enter into sales pitch mode for the one you trained on without giving a fair analysis of available ERPs.

          Vocational training is an option. Remember, not everyone wants to go to university. I would like think going to university isn’t an objective, but a choice. What I’m dismissing is that university is a waste of time.

          1. Noone said university is a waste of time.i said its not the only option and subjects such as 3D modelling can be taught outside the university environment.Please do read my comments thoroughly and understand them.Are you thus suggesting that since 3D modelling involves vectors then it cannot be taught outside the university environment?.What is the difference between a lecturer offering classroom training and one offering online classroom tutorials which is now referred to as a virtual classroom.?Are you suggesting that these do not and are not capable of teaching the same material?.
            With regards to ERP there is no one size fits all ERP it all depends on the company’s requirements and thus i can never market my ERP that i know as the only solution.
            There are ERPs designed for medium to large companies as much as those that are designed specifically for small businesses.
            I certainly did not claim the future is going towards certifications but i can definitely claim the future is going towards online learning.My argument towards certification is you can plan your life towards a certain career such as software development.I can take an example of a Java certification.Java is used in Oracle,SAP and any other ERP you can think of and has been around for as long as one can remember and will be around for years to come.
            Yes i agree with you a certification is not necessarily a measure of effectiveness as much as a degree but my argument was if you were to ask anyone in the recruitment field which carries more weight for instance if they are looking for a java developer a certification or a degree.I could be wrong this is more of my view and the experiences i have personally gone through as well as some of my colleagues but some companies are now leaning more towards certifications than degrees.Again i could be wrong its open for discussion.
            As much as you can certify in anything i would not advise this its rather better to certify in areas that are more oriented towards what you want to achieve in life.
            To put things into perspective an average Java certification is around 500usd and this can be enough to get you an entry level job in some of the best companies.
            The mistake comes when people assume just because you are certified you are now an expert.In most companies with a certification and no experience you get an entry level job and then you are elevated after working on a few projects depending on your delivery capability.
            So yes a certification is not a barometer for effectiveness but yes it is enough to get you an entry level job where you will be able to get experience.
            I could be wrong i am just sharing my experience as much as the author is sharing his.At the end of the day education is still important whichever method you take,all i advocate for is for companies not to use degrees as the only hiring barometer as most people if not up to more than 65%+ in any stream will not make it to university but they also deserve a chance at lie.

          2. If i have an IT certification and a diploma in IT am i not as good as a person who did a degree in IT and will i not be able to deliver and think in the same way?.I personally think there is nothing wrong with specialising and becoming an expert in a chosen field.If you are an ERP or Software solution consultant you are capable of being able to adjust from oracle to sap to dynamixs without difficulties and as such if Navision is taken off there market there is no reason why one cannot migrate to another system.
            You can take a degree for examples where you learn everything but at some point you will have to follow a career path.It for instance is just too broad to want to be an expert in everything and be flexible to changes jobs that too often.
            If you take programming for example you will be able to chose different jobs jsut based on a programming skill e.g you can be a solution architect,a business analyst ,a trainer .All these are career paths you can chose and thus its incorrect to say a certification restricts you to one career option

    3. The traditional class room has changed, we have to embrace this new tide. Remember how old school PHD holders would be worshiped in hallways. Now they’re as common as mosquitoes. Moral of the story is that what applied 20 years ago May not necessarily be the best solution for today’s needs.

      I have also worked with many nationals and some are persuing their careers without degrees, but just certifications and on Job training. And they’re equally good as the degreed and sometimes even better. So in this technological one needs to consider many factors before committing to a 5 year degree program.

    4. Very true, if someone turn up at the door with a degree, l will not look at as it a bonus. I was recently hiring for a big project and degrees was not even a added bonus, l just wanted pple who can deliver.

  21. Zimbos we really need to be constructive and offer our arguments without calling each other names.The author shared his personal experiences and beliefs rather than name calling i feel it makes sense to offer our personal views with regards to this issue.Because one differs with you and sees things differently doesnt mean we have to call curse each other and look at one another with a lot of disgust.
    I personally think this was an insightful article and thus we need to offer our arguments the same way the author has put his across.

  22. I have a commercial degree but I’m currently pursuing Computer Engineering which is my passion. This article has some valid points as far as local education is concerned. I enrolled at Harare poly to get the basics but it’s been a nightmare. For one course we haven’t had a lecture till exams, for those we had lecturers they didn’t even attempt to take us through half of the syllabus. Coming to assignments you have to pay every time you hand in, projects it’s the same thing. The labs are in shambles but they are busy buying vehicles and reconstructing security walls. In university at least the lecturers would come they give you direction then you can google and youtube to add more flesh but at Harare poly it’s bad.
    I was following the debate here closely in case I found another solution to bail myself out and achieve my passion. Online or skipping the border might be the way to go.

    1. With the exception of a few universities you probably are going through the same ordeal as most of us went through/most are going through.When i went to university studying IT we had about 10 computers and back then owning a desktop was a big achievement and a priviledge to the few.This is not far back as i finished my degree in the mid 2000’s.One of our lecturers for data communications and networks would basically come through and read a text book word by word and these alas were our notes.Most people ended up skipping lectures since they were not compulsory.
      When we discuss these issues we are not saying education is not important but considering that the majority of people cannot afford the university fees there surely has to be a better alternative which personally i feel online tutorials have provided.As i have highlighted above with sites such as treehouse this is essentially hands on and for instance if you are learning software development they teach you step by step and you can ask questions as you go and they are there to assist.Its basically a virtual classroom which in the future i predict will replace the brick and mortar approach to education.
      I really want to urge you to keep fighting for what you are passionate about and soldier on nomatter the circumstances.

      1. Its tough my guy, I’m still finding myself in MOOCs. Also on the courses offered online one needs to really know what they want because there is a plethora of courses, one might get lost finding which one to take-up. An alternative way to bring order would be to take/follow course outlines from university programs then find online courses with tallying offering.

  23. 1. First class degrees are mostly attained by people who have been academically gifted all their lives, like me (that’s why I have one)
    2. A person with a university qualification has a superior thought process to that of a person without one (that’s why I have a masters degree).
    3. If it’s not your company and you want to be a CEO in today’s world, you better get that degree, otherwise you will be the best spanner boy for life!!

    1. 1. I don’t agree, though I don’t know you, I would argue you were either at UZ or MSU that you attained a 1st class degree. My bet would be MSU. UZ is a university in decline, our only hope is NUST. I bet if you were at NUST you would not have attained a 1st class degree. In short, you are a beneficiary of the decline in our education system or you took a none scientific degree so you would look smart
      2. A degree does not make you smart, but yes it does teach you how to think
      3. There are many factors to making CEO other than academic qualifications

      1. buh still a degree is the benchmark that u have an idea of wats happening around u lets take a sample how many ceos in firms around that do not have a degree

    2. 1. Wrong- I have one but don’t think I’m that smart
      2. Wrong-u don’t need a degree to be smart
      3.Correct Mindset for the enslaved majority by our education system that go to school and get good grades so that you will get a good job where with loyalty you will be promoted up to the CEO of that great Company of yours

  24. 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.

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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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