I INTEND neither to launch an emotional war on the education system nor to write a full-length indictment against those who have invested a lot in learning.
But how can one keep calm when thousands of young dreamers are being channeled into a vast existence of emptiness yearly, with their dreams squashed to death by circumstances?
According to statistics from Zimbabwe’s ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, approximately 30 000 students graduate annually from institutions of higher learning. A student needs approximately US$ 6 000, inclusive of tuition fees, meals, and residential costs, to complete a four-year undergraduate degree. That is a staggering figure, just staggering!
All state universities’ graduation ceremonies are attended by the President himself, who presides over the charade which gives false hope to thousands of dreamers. These graduands are ushered into the darkness by high-ranking officials who know the truth but are determined to uphold the pretense.
Were it not for my loving parents, I would have attended my graduation clad in a pink suit, lime green shoes, a blue tattered overalls jacket, and shaggy hair just to express my broken world view and discontentment towards the whole warped ceremony.
The industries which are supposed to be the primary source of employment for graduates have closed down. Regardless of that, the number of graduates keeps increasing every year because there are too many dreamers hoping to find an elixir in education. And now there are so many graduates that when I throw a stone in any direction, the probability of hitting a disillusioned graduate is almost a certainty.
Most of those graduates never tasted normal life on campus; many survived on one meal a day, some would squatter in their friends’ rooms and some would bear the brunt of raising tuition fees on their own. We were all indoctrinated into believing that if we keep fighting for success, life would get better after we attain a degree. But reality is rubbing hot pepper into our naïve eyes, rudely reminding us how education has become the equivalent of mental masturbation whose orgasm never comes. We just made universities richer in exchange for nothing.
Sometime ago, education was the sole way of escapism from poverty, but today, those who have never stepped at the doorstep of tertiary institutions are having a life worth living while graduates are wallowing in abject poverty. What went wrong?
I believe that the role of a government is to create a conducive environment that allows its people to prosper in whatever endeavours they might be undertaking, hence bad governance renders everything useless, including education.
And victims of bad governance range from those poor greengrocers stuck under some weird verandahs trying so hard to earn a living to those first-class degree holders roaming the streets as they try to escape from the jagged teeth of poverty. Just imagime for a moment those shopkeepers who earn so little that they cannot even pay rentals. What about the civil servants who are expected ronserve a nation, yet they are so impoverished that they cannot even afford school fees for their kids.
The essence of life has been destroyed by bad governance which, arguably, has reduced education to a scam. And my generation is stuck in a situation where every sunset seems to be shoveling your dreams into a never-full and ever-empty pit latrine, dreams being mocked to death by time.
Trying to escape from poverty through education has become meaningless like a madman running into a once-upon-a-time haven whose roof and walls wait for him to sleep and crush him to death. Is there anything to celebrate about graduation nowadays?
You have absolutely nothing to celebrate because, after completing your studies, you do not know where your next meal will come from. Your degree, diploma or certificate gathers dust and cobwebs while you sleep on an empty stomach.
And from time to time, you fumble your hand onto them to take a deep look in reminiscence; how you wasted four fabulous years of massive studying, enduring sleepless nights working on a dissertation, only to become a tout, a drug addict, a beer-guzzling little Judas. What is the meaning of life?
The shebeens and bars and bus terminuses, betting houses and street mazes have become a haven for frustrated graduates. Enter any shebeen and you get to hear how a beer-guzzling tout wasted his years going to college, that airtime peddler knows the inside of s university lecture theatre. Some newspaper vendors hold degrees. Amazing! Did we spend four years on campus wasting time? I do not know, perhaps no one knows.
But in all circumstances, I do not blame myself for pursuing education. There is absolutely nothing I could have done better, it is those live-now-think-later chaps who have made it to cabinet, and the get-rich-faster Judases who have flooded our politics. They plunged us into a veritable hell.
How can you happily chase your dream when everything seems to be working against you? You need to remain focused on your dream career, at the same time you need to eat, you need clothes and you need to survive. Things are going down and down and down while we are hanging by a thread waiting for angels to locate and rescue us.
Reality hits you hard in the face after graduation when you try to settle with your things only for them to shoot up like splinters of a broken glass and laugh at your existence audibly saying: “Hey, little boy, forget about your certificates and go out to hustle”. And hustling is not for everyone.
You then remember the President said go and make money and stop meddling with politics because it will get you into trouble, but in whatever you try to do there seems to be a monster savagely threatening to consume your dreams. Graduates singing the blues!
I have set my face towards Jerusalem!
About the writer: Moses Madyira is a Zimbabwean journalist. You can follow him on X: @MosesyMadyira
Email: [email protected]
And cellphone: 0778049711.