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Title:
CONTEXTUALISING POVERTY IN ZIMBABWE: A BIRD'S EYE-VIEW OF SOME ZIMBABWEAN UNIVERSITIES

Authors:
Viola Ingwani and Cynthia Dzimiri, Zimbabwe

Abstract:
The study illuminated poverty, one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, in three Zimbabwean universities, namely Great Zimbabwe (GZU), Midlands State(MSU) and the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). The main aspect featured was poverty and its effect on attaining an education. A sample of twelve respondents randomly sampled included three lecturers, three female students, three males and three hostel wardens .The qualitative method was employed and interviews, and open ended questionnaires were used. Findings of effects of poverty on university studentsí education included lack of university grants. Funds provided by the government cadetship scholarship scheme assisted very few needy students. Securing cadetship was a daunting task, with some university officials being uncooperative and verbally abusive to underprivileged students. University accommodation was a challenge since full fees was required upfront before securing it. Alternative off-campus accommodation was often in crowded, substandard, unconducive environments and facilities such as study desks and chairs were often missing .Often students slept on uncomfortable mattresses, mats or pieces of hard cardboard. The unfortunate students were subjected to verbal abuse by landlords/landladies. Water cuts lasting long periods were experienced, resulting in loss of hygiene. Desperate students resorted to fetching water from unprotected wells. Power cuts resulted in use of firewood to prepare meals. The result was loss of vital study time. Most off-campus accommodation lacked internet facilities critical for research. Laptops were unaffordable to students from impoverished backgrounds. Computer literacy skills were lacking. Transport money was unavailable to and from lecture venues. Despite providing buses to shuttle students to learning centres, transport was inadequate for the ballooning student numbers. Underprivileged students lacked finances to type and print assignments. The study suggested the reintroduction of study grants to cushion disadvantaged university students.

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