A national longitudinal study of black high school graduates in Zimbabwe: the "class of 1971": preliminary results of a fifteen year tracer study
Dorsey, Betty Jo
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This paper discusses the educational and occupational aspirations and subsequent achievement of the 1971 cohort of high school graduates in Zimbabwe. It considers the implications which their educational and occupational experiences may have for educational reform in the post-colonial era. The first part of the paper discusses the methodology and difficulties encountered in carrying out a panel longitudinal study in a third world country, particularly during a critical political period of transition from colonialism to independence. The third tracer study carried out at a 15-year interval elicited 690 responses (27 percent). The response rate compares favourably with studies conducted in developed countries. The respondents are shown to be representative of the original population on nine important variables. The second part of the paper discusses the original educational and occupational aspirations of the respondents and examines the extent to which they have been able to fulfill them. The "Class of 1971" by and large had an academic type of secondary school education. They were a very selected group since education for blacks was restricted in those days and consequently had high educational and career aspirations mostly of a professional or semi-professional nature. The fifteen year tracer study revealed that they have been relatively successful with 77 percent of the males and 83 percent of the females continuing their education beyond high school and 95 percent having plans for fiirther educational studies. The "diploma disease" (Dore, 1976) is still rampant in Zimbabwe and highly contagious. Seeking additional educational qualifications is not without some justification for furthering one’s career and obtaining a comfortable life-style. Slightly less than one-third of the respondents in the third tracer study were in high status occupations and two-thirds were in middle status occupations. None of the females and only 3 percent of the males were in low status occupations. There was also a strong relationship between educational qualifications and income, particularly for females. Higher qualifications and higher incomes enables nearly half the respondents in the third tracer study to live in the better residential suburbs in the urban areas.