Some college and university students on industrial attachment claim that they are being seriously exploited by companies that have over the years retrenched thousands of workers due to the prevailing harsh economic situation in Zimbabwe.
Kenny Munyaka, a final-year marketing student at one of the tertiary institutions, says most companies normally pay them $50 per month each when they are on attachment.
Munyaka says this money does not cater for their daily needs while on industrial attachment.
Accounting student, Mavis Murandu, concurs saying that besides a pittance allowance, some companies ask them to conduct businesses that are not related to their studies.
Dr. Funny Saruchera of Chinhoyi University of Technology shares the same sentiments, noting that it is unfortunate that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education does not have a clear policy about the remuneration of students on attachment.
Dr. Saruchera says the primary focus of colleges and universities is that students are able to get some form of work related to their studies and not salaries while on industrial attachment.
He also says they have over the years discouraged students from strongly thinking about getting industrial attachment on the basis of being paid salaries or allowances as they need to secure places where they can be imparted with relevant educational skills.
Brian Tomo, who is the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education’s public relations officer, says companies and government should pay students on industrial attachment.
Tomo says it is difficult for government to tackle this issue as most students do not make formal complaints about being exploited by private and public companies while on industrial attachment.
He could not clearly spell out the national policy on industrial attachment in terms of student salaries and allowances.
A manager of a local company, who does not want to be identified, says students should be grateful for being afforded an opportunity to learn without paying companies while on industrial attachment.
He says the current situation in which most students are not paid benefits students and companies.
But ZimRights director Okay Machisa, who is a former teacher, says what companies are doing is unfair.
Machisa says teachers on industrial attachment are paid salaries but the state policy is silent about this issue in other sectors.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Psychomotor, Josiah Hungwe, says government will soon introduce education with production, which was conducted by so-called F2 schools during the colonial era.
Speaking at Mupfure Self Help College this week, Hungwe said recommendations of the 1999 Caiphas Nziramasanga Commission on Education, which include the re-introduction of a two-tier education system in Zimbabwe, cannot be implemented any time soon due to lack of resources.
Zimbabwe’s F1 schooling mainly focused on pursuing academic studies while the F2 system was designed to equip students with life skills. These were discarded soon after independence as the government regarded them as some form of colonial hangover.