Decoloniality of Higher Education in Zimbabwe

  • Monica Zembere


In this chapter, Monica Zembere highlights the institutional disadvantagedness of students from rural secondary schools in accessing science education in Zimbabwean higher education institutions. Zembere uses the prism of decoloniality theory, particularly the concepts of getting in and getting through to analyse the interface between rural secondary schools in Zimbabwe and higher education that is equitable and accessible. Ultimately, Zembere shows how Zimbabwean students seeking to access higher education are restricted in both general access and the study fields for which they may enrol in higher education. The restrictions are typically socio-economic in nature as the disadvantaged habitus of such learners deprives them of the linguistic, cultural and economic capital to integrate seamlessly into higher education. Zembere argues that accessing higher education in Zimbabwe still subtly follows the social stratification criteria introduced by colonialism. As such, the disadvantaged socio-economic conditions of students from Zimbabwean rural secondary schools determine whether such students access higher education, and if they do, their background in principle determines which programmes they may study or not. Besides problems of access and choice of study programmes students from disadvantaged backgrounds face, once such students join the university, there is also the challenge of epistemic access with which they have to grapple. By and large, Zembere argues that such access is embodied by possession (or a lack thereof) of English proficiency, which is scarcely the mother tongue of or the lingua franca for the rural communities in which the students develop; yet, it is the sole language of instruction, research and academic discourse in the university. In the light of such challenges, Zembere recommends that there must be renewed investment into transforming the social and school environment of rural school learners. The bureaucratic requirements for admission into higher education, such as especially higher fees for science programmes, must be reviewed so that they should cease to function as tools for filtering out rural-based students.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica Zembere
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Bindura University of Science Education in ZimbabweBinduraZimbabwe

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