Zimbabwe Higher Education Consultations

In early 2010, CARA and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Interface (ZDDI) and the British Zimbabwe Society (BZS), carried out the Zimbabwe Higher Education Consultations in Zimbabwe, the UK and South Africa.

Consultation meetings invited a discussion on the critical issues affecting the nation's academics and universities and asked what role the diaspora could potentially play in addressing some of these issues. 180 academics and higher education professionals gathered at three different consultations, held at the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University and the National University of Science and Technology. The issues raised during the three consultations were later presented to members of the Zimbabwean diaspora in London, hosted by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and in South Africa, hosted by the Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand.

The diaspora consultations proved productive, with academics keen to engage with their former institutions and redress the resource gaps identified by their counterparts in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe consultations also demonstrated great willingness within the universities to work with the diaspora academic community, recognising the investment that Zimbabwe made towards their education and the critical gaps facing the institutions.

Critical issues raised included: severe staff shortages and under-resourced faculties; a decline in quality of teaching provision; lack of training and research opportunities; gross under-funding; the brain drain of academic staff and the consequential lack of qualified staff in-country; and the de-skilling of the country's academic diaspora. A Full Consultation Findings Report, detailing how the Zimbabwean diaspora could support the rebuilding of Zimbabwe’s higher education system, can be viewed here.

Following the success of the CARA/IOM Consultations, CARA was encouraged by a broad section of stakeholders to respond to two of the key recommendations made by the Zimbabwean academic community within the report: the need for staff re-engagement and training; and that many of the immediate problems in Zimbabwe could be solved through virtual support. Resulting from these recommendations, the Grant and Fellowship Programme as well as the Virtual Lecture Hall Project were launched at the beginning of 2011.