Thursday, March 3, 2011

Zimbabwe tops Africa's literacy rate

HARARE, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has overtaken Tunisia to become the country with the highest literacy rate in Africa, according to statistics from the latest UNDP Digest.

Tunisia had held pole position for years with Zimbabwe second- best and number one in Sub-Saharan Africa.

But according to the UNDP Digest, Zimbabwe's literacy level jumped to 92 percent, up from 85 percent while Tunisia remains on 87 percent.

The achievement is despite the country's education sector suffering from brain drain and lack of resources over the past decade.

A senior government official told the Herald on Wednesday that the increase in literacy levels is due to government's heavy investment in education over the years.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Washington Mbizvo said the government has promoted conventional and open distance learning in its quest to achieve education for all.

"The latest statistical digest was published last month and shows our country surpassing all African countries. This is because we have been able to make all people access education including those in resettlement areas. "

" Despite hardships, education facilities are present in most parts of the country," he said.

While acknowledging that education infrastructure has deteriorated, Mbizvo said the quality and culture of education in the country has improved."

"Zimbabweans have always been eager to learn," he said.

"The government has expanded the number of teachers' colleges to 13, producing 2, 500 teachers per year," he said, adding that other countries in Africa produce between 200 and 400 teachers annually on average.

"This has seen other countries like Namibia requesting us to train teachers for them and this shows that we are well-recognized on the continent," Mbizvo said.