Anglia Ruskin University
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Vocational education and training in rural Zimbabwe: the case of Murewa District

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:43 authored by Tapiwa E. Katsande
As young people’s opportunities in the digital and globalised world of work generally dwindle, the situation for rurally based young people in Zimbabwe gets increasingly complex. The Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment reports that young people in Zimbabwe are the hardest hit by unemployment (Murinda, 2014). The 2012 Zimbabwe population census data indicates that young people aged 15-34 years constitute 84 per cent of the unemployed (Murinda, 2014). Governments in both industrialised and developing countries are calling for vocational education reform in the search for remedies for economic crises and youth unemployment. This thesis seeks to establish the place of VET in rural Zimbabwe and, from the perspective of students, teachers and education inspectors, the contemporary factors that influence attitudes to VET. The methodology selected for this study is the explanatory case study approach. Six schools in Murewa district were selected for the study. The research methods included semi-structured questionnaires, focus groups and in-depth interviews with primary and secondary school students, teachers and education inspectors. This study makes methodological contributions to the effective use of multiple data collection methods. My original contribution to knowledge is the exploration of the contemporary views of rurally based students and teachers whose voices are rarely heard in educational policy formulation. A disconnection was discernible between policy-makers, education inspectors, teachers and students. There is evidence that poor teacher motivation, the low status ascribed to VET and the way VET is delivered influence young people’s attitudes. Some young people questioned the relevance of VET, whilst others viewed it as an alternative if the academic route failed. It emerged that many students are discouraged by the way VET is taught and its lack of relevance to their desired careers. Primary school students had more positive perceptions of VET than secondary school students. Lack of professional careers guidance was found to contribute to VET apathy. This study makes theoretical contributions to the VET agenda by proposing a framework of the key factors influencing the vocational student’s learning journey and providing a foundation for perception and attitudinal transformation. This study contributes to an ongoing review of the Zimbabwean education system, which is focusing on young people’s needs and aspirations. This research will inform policy-makers, educationalists and industrialists about how VET can be tailored to meet young people’s aspirations. The study will inform future research on effective careers iv guidance and curriculum development and will apprise policy-makers of the institutional and cultural status quo of VET in Zimbabwean rural schools.



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