The Mugabe Presidential Scholarship programme is not benefiting Zimbabwe Education.

Every year since 1995 president Mugabe sends students to study at various South African universities. Glen View North Member of Parliament Fani Munengami said up to US$40 million was being paid to foreign universities to enable a few students to study under the presidential scholarship at the expense of heavily under-funded colleges and universities. The scholarships which were initially for studies at Fort Hare University have been extended to over 14 universities including expensive universities such as Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. An international student studying Bachelors of Science at Witwatersrand pays a minimum of R30  000, [close to US$4 000] a year without accommodation. Studying the same degree costs US$620 at Midlands State University whilst at National University of Science and Technology [NUST] costs US$400.

The Mugabe scholarship seems to be operating on patronage. Whilst the scholarship requirements states that only disadvantaged students from rural and remote districts, under 25 years, with no criminal record and good medical report qualify, the daughter of Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba's daughter Rukudzo Charamba is benefiting from the scholarship studying LLB with Fort Hare University currently.

Tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe are facing the following challenges among others, University of Zimbabwe has an enrolment of close to 10 000 but only accommodate 4  287 in residence, National University of Science and Technology only accommodates 104 students in residence against the enrolment of close to 4 000 students and with an enrolment of close to 6  000 students, Midlands State university accommodate only 200 students according to the Finance Ministry Tendai Biti. The three mentioned universities are not the only tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe as there are Polytechnic colleges, Teachers Colleges, Agricultural colleges Nursing institutions and many others that fall under the same ministry. According to the Zimbabwe National Students Union, the majority of students in Zimbabwe have been forced to defer or drop out of studies due to failure to pay tuition fees.

In the 2011 National budget the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education was allocated US$59,2   million and only US$29, 11 million was disbursed to the ministry. Even with such financial difficulties this year a total of 596 new students were offered the scholarship and Chris Mushowe the Director of the programme was complaining about US$3million allocated to only 596 students.

By Tafadzwa Maguchu

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