University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Students in Zimbabwe pay tuition with cows, goats

Extreme currency shortage forces students to barter food, fuel and other goods to pay tuition

Students in Zimbabwe have resorted to bartering to pay fees. This has emerged in a report authored by the country’s Auditor General Mildrid Chiri, according to education news site

The report, which covers the first quarter of 2009, shows that the direct exchange of goods without currency is prevalent in a number of ministries, including the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Youth, which has been forced to allow students to pay tuition fees with food.

Livestock and grains for tuition

At one vocational training centre, 76 out of 147 students have settled debts using valuables other than cash, such as sugar beans, cows, goats, wheat, maize, provisions, fertiliser, chemicals and fuel coupons.

According to the report, the bartered items are supposed to be assessed and valued according to prevailing market prices. Mildrid Chiri was however unsatisfied with the price levels.

»I was also not satisfied with the valuation of the items tendered as, based on the market price then obtaining in the locality, the value of the above items was 50 per cent of the receipted amounts,« she writes in the report.

Record inflation

The government of Zimbabwe switched to dollars in February this year, to escape record inflation that at one time stood at 1.5 million per cent.

Both the South African Rand, the United States Dollar and the Botswana Pula are now legal tender and inflation has dropped to below 2 per cent. But most Zimbabweans have still little access to currency.

In her report, Chiri said that Zimbabwe’s ministries were unprepared to audit such barter payments.