Zimbabwe courting expat lecturers to tackle skills gap

November 2, 2006

Zimbabwe is to establish an "intellectual desk" at the Ministry of Higher and Further Education. It will target lecturers living abroad to help tackle the country's growing skills gap.

The Government hopes that by offering short-term contracts, expatriate Zimbabweans will be tempted to return to offer their expertise in fields such as medicine, mining, education and engineering.

Washington Mbizvo, the Education Secretary, said: "We have recalled retired lecturers to come and lecture at universities on a yearly basis."

Dr Mbizvo explained that under the initiative, a website would go live this month carrying the message to Zimbabweans living abroad: "Come to Zimbabwe, the country is kicking and alive."

A government audit to establish how many people the country lost through the brain drain is under way. Independent sources estimate that 3.5 million people have left since 2000, when the economy went into decline.

The Zimbabwean , an independent newspaper, scoffed at the suggestion the country was "kicking and alive" and argued that the Government had failed to address the underlying problems that were driving people away.

In the paper's editorial on October 12, it claims: "Many Zimbabweans in the diaspora are desperate to go home. They will not even need an invitation.

"But there is no way they will consider returning to Zimbabwe as long as the country remains in its present state, under its present ruler."

Eric Bloch, an economic consultant and adviser to the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank, told South Africa's Mail & Guardian : "I believe the effort is doomed to failure even before they begin. We can't even keep the skilled ones we have here. How can we attract more?"

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