Early Education Context

Zimbabwe, with a population of around 16 million inhabitants, is a country of southern Africa located to the north of South Africa. Its GDP is estimated at a low US$ 34 billion which makes an average GDP per capita of US$ 1.79. The country's population grows approximately 2.3% annually. From the whole population, roughly 68% are living in rural areas and life expectancy is estimated at almost 62 years. More than 3 million people are between 15 and 24 years old, and 6.7 million are younger than 14.

Zimbabwe's economy has been suffering instability for years. This has also had a negative impact on the education sector, which was once a flagship in the region. The government has decreased its support for essential educational material, equipment, school infrastructure and teachers. Leading to the fact that many children do not have access to basic services such as health and education. Especially in rural areas (almost 70% as stated above), the problem is severe.

Although Zimbabwe's government is well advanced in its political process concerning fostering early childhood education, the country disappoints in terms of educated teachers and resources. Without qualified teachers, children are not adequately taught and are not able to enjoy high-quality education. In rural provinces such as Matabeleland or Mashonaland, the rate of qualified teachers in ECD is at a low 30%. In 2013, the gross enrolment ratio (students enrolled, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education) for pre-primary education was 42%. The net enrolment rate (total number of students in the theoretical age group for a given level of education enrolled in that level) was at 25%. The numbers for children living in rural areas are indeed worse. Approximately only 20% of these children have access to pre-primary. This is mainly due to the long distances from their home to the nearest center (average distance: 5km). Four-year-olds are not able to walk such long routes every day.