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Rwandan President Kagame's Remarks on Hiring Zimbabwean Teachers Set Social Media on Fire

FILE - Rwanda's President Paul Kagame addresses a news conference in Kigali, Rwanda, April 8, 2019.
FILE - Rwanda's President Paul Kagame addresses a news conference in Kigali, Rwanda, April 8, 2019.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s remarks on Zimbabwean teachers at the inaugural Rwanda Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference on Wednesday, have set social media on fire with some professionals showing interest in working in the tiny central African nation.

A video clip captured by the Rwanda Broadcasting Authority’s Rwanda Television, circulating on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, shows Kagame telling Zimbabweans that he is interested in hiring the country’s teachers.

Zimbabwean teachers are currently demanding salary increases of up to US$580. An ordinary family of six in Zimbabwe now needs ZWL$39,924 to cover its monthly expenses, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT).

Kagame is quoted by Rwanda TV as saying, “I heard the presentations made to us, very important things we can do together, what each country offers so on and so forth. I want to emphasize one thing. I think there is a deputy CEO of RDB (Rwanda Development Board) who mentioned in passing what Zimbabwe can offer in the area of education. He talked about equipment or something.

“Before equipment, I want people,” said Kagame amid applause from the audience, adding that “I think Zimbabwe can offer us good teachers. So please work on that as a sense of urgency … You can find whatever number you find of quality teachers. I think we can absorb.”

VOA Zimbabwe Service could not reach the Zimbabwean delegation in Kigali, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Shava, and local teachers’ unions.

ZIMSTAT reported Thursday that the Food Poverty Line (FPL) for one person in August 2021 was ZWL$4516.52. It increased to ZWL$4734.33 in September 2021 while the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for one person stood at ZWL$6,653.65 in the same month, a 4.8% increase from the month of August, which was ZWL$6,350.25.

Zimbabwe’s education is highly rated worldwide. According to Africa Check, which identifies important public statements, interrogates the best available evidence and publishes fact-checking reports to guide public debate, ZIMSTAT’s labour force survey estimated that 97% of people over 15 were literate in 2011. “This figure is based on the percentage of people in this age group that had completed Grade 3 of schooling.”

Africa Check further notes that the country’s 2011 Demographic and Health Survey estimated that 96% of men aged 15 to 54 and 94% of women aged 15 to 49 were literate. “This figure was calculated from a nationally representative household survey but it only applied to certain age groups. Respondents were considered literate if they had attended secondary school (generally aged 15 and older) or could read a whole sentence or part of a sentence in a reading test.”

Africa Check said to evaluate Zimbabwe’s literacy rate in Africa, it consulted the most recent global literacy list produced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, released in June 2013.

Africa Check said UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics estimated that 83.6% of Zimbabweans aged 15 and older were literate in 2011. “This estimation was based on Zimbabwe’s 2011 Demographic and Health Survey results.”

Africa quotes a senior statistician and policy analyst at UNESCO, Nicole Bella, as telling the organization that they had “made some re-estimations to include older age groups which typically have much lower literacy levels”.

According to Africa Check, the organization doesn’t consider people who can only read part of a sentence to be literate so they were excluded, unlike in the Demographic and Health Survey.

Bathabile Masuku contributed to this article.