When I was growing up in the village, it was the hope of every parent that after sending children to school, things would change for the better in the family and the cycle of poverty would be broken. This was premised on the expectation that once their educated children left school they would be gainfully employed in the city and start fending for the family, taking care of the aging parents back in the village.
And it did happen. There are many examples of poor families, whose lives improved tremendously after their children completed tertiary education.
Then, Zimbabwe’s industry was blooming and immediately after graduating from college one would be snatched by the big companies and start earning a steady income, enough to support themselves and the expectant parents in the rural areas. The excited parents would brag at every village event and ndari (village drinking parties) that they made a good investment in their children and are now reaping the profits.
That was then, poor villagers!
Things have changed now and many elderly people in the village are enduring the agony of having to continue providing for their highly educated but unemployed children spending the whole day at home doing nothing productive.
The country has run out of jobs and unemployment is hovering well above 80%. Even the government, which for many years was regarded as the most stable employer, is contemplating retrenching half of its workforce as hinted by the Finance Minister in the budget review statement of 30 July 2015.
Many youths have lost hope of ever getting employment although some left school as high achievers. It is indeed a tough time for the parents who laboured in vain, banking on the old adage: “chirere chigokurerawo” meaning, take care of the child today and tomorrow they will return the favour.
The parents are no longer guaranteed their payback reward, as they find that they still need to work hard to fend for the grown up children, still languishing at home after many years of education. Poverty remains in the village and there has been no change in fortunes. The youths, on whom every hope of the old villagers lay, are lying idle in the village. It is quite a sad story.. There are no jobs or other opportunities for the youth.
Of course the advantage of sending children to school is not only limited to making them employable. Social scientists will argue that even without job opportunities, a country with educated and civilised people is better off, but the poor villagers will not be convinced.
They will argue strongly that they laboured tooth and nail to send their children to school with the hope that this would bring a better life for the family and the village at large. The many certificates their children acquired are fast gathering dust and poverty remains. It is tears, hopelessness and agony for the anxious parents in the village.
The cycle of poverty is proving to be a hard nut to crack. In our African culture the extended family remains an important factor in people’s lives and it is expected that since it takes a whole village to raise a child, the same village should benefit from the success of the child. But how does this happen when the economy of Zimbabwe is on its knees? Two decades of advanced mismanagement have seen the once colourful Zimbabwean economy crumble and employment opportunities are now hard to come by.
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