Diaspora Focus

Zimbabwe Diaspora Focus Group

The BZS is represented in a focus group that has been set up by the Foreign Office to make sure that the views of the Zimbabwean diaspora are fed into British Government policy on Zimbabwe. The Government of Zimbabwe has meanwhile been putting thought into it s own policy on the disapora – a National Migration Management and Diaspora Policy statement was released in July.

To find more background visit ZDFG

Zimbabwe Diaspora Higher Education Initiative

The BZS is working in partnership with the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics [CARA]; the International Organization for Migration [IOM]; and the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Interface [ZDDI] on an initiative to involve Zimbabwean academics in the diaspora, and friends in Zimbabwe to support the latter in regaining lost skill and capacity.

For more information, see BZS Chair Knox Chitiyo’s report on the London consultation on this inititiative immediately below.  CARA  site supports more information

Zimbabwe Diaspora Higher Education Initiative
Consultation, 30 March 2010

Summary, by Knox Chitiyo

On 30 March 2010, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies hosted a Consultation on the Zimbabwe Diaspora re- engagement with Zimbabwe’s Higher Education system. This discussion is part of a series of consultations in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. The Consultations have been organised by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics [CARA] and the International Organization for Migration [IOM] in partnership with other organizations and host institutions.

The idea for the Initiative emerged from a preliminary visit to Zimbabwe’s institutes of Higher Learning by Ms Laura Wintour [CARA] in November 2009. Upon her return, Ms Wintour approached Knox Chitiyo as representative of BZS for ideas and assistance re consultations. CARA, IOM, BZS and the ZDDI engaged in discussions on the way forward re the structure and objectives of the Consultations.

The main objectives are threefold; first, to gain insights on what the Zimbabwe’s Higher Education [particularly University] needs are re staffing gaps; equipment shortages, facilities, publications etc. Second, to find out what is being done and what new initiatives are already happening on the ground in Zimbabwe to addresss some of theses problems; third, for UK based Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe to give their insights and perspectives and discuss ways in which they felt they could contribute to Higher Education in Zimbabwe.

There are four main consultations:

[1] 15 March – 22 March Zimbabwe Consultations at UZ, Midlands, University, NUST; Mutare;consultations held with Teaching staff, students, Ministries of Education and other key stakeholders. Consultation team which went to Zimbabwe included Ms Wintour and Dr Alex Magaisa [ZDDI]

[2] 30 March – London Consultation at ICS. Consultations with London diaspora. Organised by ICS, CARA, BZS and ZDDI.

[3] 14 April – Johannesburg Consultation [ Wits University]

[4] 22 April – Cape Town consultation [UCT]

The London Consultation

[Please note that these are merely my summary notes. See full report below from IOM/CARA ]

There were approximately 30 delegates on the day- a little less than the 40 or so who had indicated they would come, but still a good- and manageable – turn out. [There was also a good turn out from BZS]

Prof Murphy [ICS] did the welcome and introduction. Knox then did a general outline of the objectives of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Higher Education Initiative and of the specific London Consultation. Amongst other things, Knox pointed out that the Initiative was a non- political project which was aimed at helping Zimbabwe’s Higher Education sector.

He particularly emphasised that one of the challenges and opportunities for the Initiative could be in “re- skilling” Zimbabweans in the diaspora who have academic skills/qualifications but have been de-skilled because of lack of opportunity/time to work in academia abroad. In other words, diaspora re- engagement would need to make provision for contributions not only for Zimbabwean academics currently in academia; but also for those who are not currently in academia.

Dr Alex Magaisa and Ms Wintour then talked about their Zimbabwe consultation. They pointed out that they were well received at the various institutions they visited and that there is a great deal of support for the idea of diaspora engagement in education. They noted that there are a number of new initiatives which are being assisted by the international community at the different faculties/universities. However, perennial staffing shortages, slow internet and lack of equipment are critical problems. There are also systemic problems including salaries, accommodation, student fees etc.There is thus a great need for assistance, and practical support from Zimbabwe’s diaspora definitely has an important part to play

After the initial presentations, the delegates adjourned to break out groups and gave their feedback. This included:

Current diaspora engagement with Zimbabwe’s education- a number of delegates are already assisting in Zimbabwe’s Higher Education as Occasional Lecturers, External Examiners etc. They gave their insights

Zimbabwe Diaspora Health Professionals initiative as a template for Higher Education engagement.

There is not just a need for re- skilling of the diaspora but also for upkilling of Zimbabwe’s local academics to upgrade their qualifications/skills so that they can reach their full potential. Training/methodology workshops may be useful in this regard..

The private sector can play an important role in supporting Higher Education’

Time off, and funding for academics to assist in Zimbabwe were among the concerns. It is not easy for academics in the UK to be given the time off from work,and/or the funding/salary to enable them to teach in Zimbabwe for any length of time.

Need for diaspora academic database which can be a resource tool for engagement

The Initiative should not be seen as being only the preserve of academics; non academics can also make a vital contribution.

Possibility of a web- site for networking/feedback/updates

The diaspora has an important contribution to make to longer term strategic planning on Zimbabwe’s reconstruction, including the higher and schools education sector. The ways and means for the diaspora to contribute and re- engage need to be found.

There is need for a diaspora – Zimbabwe framework through which the diaspora can better engage and contribute their ideas, time and skills.

The Consultation concluded at 6.30 pm. A preliminary summary of the day’s proceedings would be circulated by IOM/CARA. After the Consultations in SAfrica, a wider summary and possible way forward would be circulated.

The 30-page “CARA/IOM Zimbabwe Higher Education Initiative Consulatation Findings” in Partnership with: BZS & the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development will be uploaded shortly a the new web site is being developed.

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