Challenges affecting the education of children in Zimbabwe

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Author: Morgan Chitiyo
Date: November-December 2014
From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 6)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Essay
Length: 1,868 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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Indicators of child well-being vary across the world, as dominant social, political, cultural, and economic practices differ by region. The author of this article presents the case of Zimbabwe and the factors that affect children's welfare through education in that country. Persisting political instability, widespread violence, economic crises, and natural disasters are common factors affecting children worldwide. Zimbabwe serves as a powerful reminder to policymakers about the importance of prioritizing children's needs in the face of great social, economic, and political challenges.

UNICEF (2007) proclaims that the true measure of any nation's standing is gauged by how well it attends to its children. Many indicators can be used to measure child welfare, including children's health and safety; material security; education and socialization; and a sense of being loved, valued, and included in their families and societies (UNICEF, 2007). Unfortunately, many countries fall short of meeting this standard for a variety of reasons. In Zimbabwe, political and economic instability, food insecurity, and disease are among the factors that threaten children's welfare. This article discusses how each of these factors affects the welfare of Zimbabwean children, especially within the context of education. In doing this, the author hopes to raise awareness about the plight of children in the face of these challenges. Hopefully, this will help to galvanize society into action on behalf of children around the world.

Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, shares borders with Mozambique to the east, South Africa to the south, Zambia to the north, and Botswana to the west. In 2012, the population was calculated to be 13,061,239, with 52% between birth through 19 years old, 44% between 20 and 64 years old, and only 4% over 65 years old (Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, 2012).

The new century has been a period of political instability in Zimbabwe. Since 2000, politically motivated violence has plagued the country, seeming to increase during election times (Vasudevan, 2008). As a result, many people have lost their livelihoods, their homes, and even their lives. Such violence has devastating consequences on the welfare of children. "Even if they are not physically present, children may be affected by intentional harm done by another (for example, the murder of or an assault on a family member or close neighbor)" (Finkelhor, Turner, Ormrod, Hamby, & Kracke, 2009, p. 2). Research on children exposed to violence indicates that the children experience stress and may require intervention at the family as well as personal levels (Kaufman, Ortega, Schewe, & Kracke, 2011). According to Lynch (2003), children who are exposed to chronic or traumatic stress may end up displaying hypervigilance and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder that may contribute to feelings of helplessness and depression. No doubt, these conditions have an impact on child development and therefore affect their ability to benefit from education.

The political crisis...

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