The “Nativist Turn” and the Crisis in University Education in Zimbabwe

Munyaradzi Hwami


National socio-economic development cannot succeed in a country with a malfunctioning
education system. The adoption of nativist policies and practices in Zimbabwe since the year
2000 was met with peaceful resistance from the public university community. The purpose of
the paper is to expose the impact of nativist policies on university education. A critical
interpretive case study of two public universities was carried out. Thirty participants were
interviewed and these included students, faculty, administrators and a government official.
Document analysis and observations were also undertaken. Findings indicate that universities
have been functioning amidst immense political and economic pressure from the government.
While nativism has been put across as an indigenous empowering ideology, the intolerance
and neoliberal (privatization) principles accompanying it have led to growing displeasure and
opposition from the university community. One observes the imposition of the culture of
capitalism and the accompanying reactions that equally fits into this culture. The article
recommends a critical rethink of development paradigms that are responsive to the local
communities in place of copying and pasting ideas developed in the global North.


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