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News & Events : Africa News : Zim Tops Literacy...
Zim Tops Literacy Rankings
  Saturday, September 15, 2007   - The News

Zimbabwe has the highest overall literacy rate in Southern Africa at 90 percent followed by South Africa with 86 percent, according to the latest United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation statistics on literacy in Africa.

This development prompted the University of Maryland in the United States to give Zimbabwe an award for excellence in education at the Second African Awards in January this year in recognition of the investments made by the Government in the education sector.

The statistics, released during celebrations to mark International Literacy Day that falls any day between September 8 and 12, show that close to 98 percent of youths are literate compared to a regional average of 69,4 percent while the adult literacy rate is 89,4 percent, way ahead of the regional average of 59,2 percent. Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland are third on 81 percent while Mozambique recorded the lowest at 46 percent. Last year, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development ranked the quality of education on offer in Zimbabwe as the third best in Africa, after Tunisia and Kenya, and 39th in the world.

The quality of mathematics and science education in Zimbabwe was ranked 70th in the world with Morocco at 49th and Benin at 55th adjudged to be the only other African countries better in this department. The Deputy Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Cde Titus Maluleke, who was the guest of honour during the International Literacy Day celebrations in Guruve this week, commended Zimbabwe for making significant strides in eradicating illiteracy. The celebrations were held under the theme, "Literacy, key to good health and well being". In a speech read on his behalf by the acting quality assurance director in the ministry, Mr Nelson Kapisi, at Chakaodza Primary School on Wednesday, Cde Maluleke noted that the progress on the literacy rate had been great, especially among women.

"Women have recorded tremendous success in reducing their illiteracy rate to a mere 4 percent today from 64 percent before the attainment of independence in 1980," he said. Cde Maluleke said literacy was key to enhancing human capabilities with wide-ranging benefits including improved health and family planning, HIV and Aids prevention, children's education, poverty reduction and active citizenship, among others.

The deputy minister expressed gratitude to Plan Zimbabwe and Unesco for partnering his ministry in support of the adult literacy programme. He urged the two organisations to continue with the support until Zimbabwe achieved 100 percent literacy.

Chakaodza Primary School, which hosted the celebrations, has a class of 19 adults between 36 and 60 years of age who are under the adult literacy programme. President Mugabe launched the literacy campaign in Mudzi in July 1983. Literacy remains an elusive target in Africa with 60 percent of adults on the continent unable to read or write. According to Unesco, more than 700 million adults, mostly women, lack minimum literacy skills globally.

It is believed that almost 800 million people worldwide are functional illiterates, meaning they can neither read, write nor count. Zimbabwe's impressive literacy statistics have been premised on a sound education system that has advanced in leaps and bounds since independence in 1980.
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