Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association says the country is facing a significant teacher exodus, with around 300 educators leaving the country each month.
Further confirmation of the ongoing worker exodus comes from the UK, which eased entry rules last year to address skills shortages that followed its 2016 exit from the European Union and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The primary cause of this departure is the comparatively low wages in Zimbabwe compared to other southern African nations and while salary increases are challenging due to economic constraints, the country must find ways to retain and attract teaching talent.
Emigration data released for the first time by Zimbabwe’s statistics agency in September last year showed 908,913 of the country’s estimated 16 million nationals were living abroad, and 85% of them were in South Africa.
Those numbers are likely an undercount, with frequent migration between neighboring countries making an accurate assessment tricky and undocumented foreigners unlikely to participate in population surveys.
Once a regional grain exporter and one of Africa’s best-educated nations, Zimbabwe went into free-fall in 2000 after then-President Robert Mugabe backed the seizure of land from White commercial farmers.
Mugabe was toppled in 2017 and his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed the country “open for business,” yet less than one in 10 workers are formally employed and most of those that are struggle to make ends meet.
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association estimates that 300 teachers are leaving their jobs each month, and has warned that their exit will take a heavy toll on education standards and the economy.
The average teacher in Zimbabwe earns a maximum of $350 per month, leading to a loss of qualified educators while budget constraints hinder the employment of additional teachers needed to support the country’s students.
For decades Zimbabwe’s education system was respected as one of the best on the continent – one of the few accomplishments of former president Robert Mugabe’s regime.