THE government’s determination to forge ahead with the troubled presidential scholarship programme despite well-publicised financial problems it has faced defies logic.
Stories abound of Zimbabwean students at South African universities who have been forced to turn into prostitution to make ends meet because they are not receiving grants from the government back home as promised.
Students have suffered untold humiliation after the government failed to pay fees on time countless times.
Some of them reportedly end up engaging in delinquent behaviour that includes the abuse of drugs due to the neglect they suffer once in South Africa.
However, to everyone’s surprise the government through the co-ordinator of the scholarship programme Chris Mushohwe, yesterday advertised that it was seeking students for the 2015 intake.
The call will certainly find takers and thousands for that matter because the majority of Zimbabwean school leavers cannot find jobs and the promise of a better life in South Africa is enticing enough.
Reality would only sink when the students are in South Africa with the government failing to meet its part of the bargain.
Early this year we revealed that the government was struggling to pay South African universities $1 million in outstanding tuition fees.
Critics of the programme view it as just another political gimmick that has less value for the country especially considering that Zimbabwe now has up to seven State universities compared to two when the programme was launched in 1995.
The universities are grossly underfunded and the government struggles to pay fees for students under its cadetship scheme.
There are also several private universities that have been set up in Zimbabwe and there is no longer a compelling reason for President Robert Mugabe to be sending young children to suffer at South African universities.
The government should instead be channelling its resources to capacitating local universities to be competitive globally.
If well-funded, the universities would in the long run attract students from neighbouring countries and Zimbabwe would become a leader in tertiary education.