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THE South African embassy in Harare has seen an increase in the number of prospective students seeking permits to pursue tertiary education in that country as thousands continue to shun local institutions.

In what could be interpreted as an indictment of Zimbabwe’s much-vaunted but waning education system, prospective students have been making a daily bee-line outside the embassy in their hundreds.

The trend has revived the long snaking queues reminiscent of the hyperinflation era of 2007-2008 when Zimbabweans sought visas to South Africa to escape the economic crisis.

Prospective students have been flooding the embassy since the beginning of last week as they try to beat the festive season shut down. Some people pitch up as early as 2am hoping to be among the maximum 100 people that the embassy attends to each day.

Efforts to obtain an official comment from the South African embassy were futile as their phones went unanswered. But some officials working inside the embassy confirmed that there has been an increase in the number of people seeking permission to study in South Africa.

When NewZimbabwe.com visited the embassy Tuesday about 500 people were in the queue. An official insisted on the 100 per day limit telling the rest to “come tomorrow very early to stand any chance of being served.”

One Takunda Sibanda, a prospective engineering student said: “There is no point in enrolling at the local universities where lectures are deserting as a result of low or no salaries at all.”

This year state universities lecturers were routinely not paid on time with many deciding to quit the profession.

Another student permit hopeful said: “The fees are almost the same but the cost of living is cheaper in South Africa than in Zimbabwe.”

Last year’s World University Web Ranking placed Zimbabwean universities relatively low in its rankings.

The top five African rankings are occupied by South African universities with the University of Cape Town first ahead of the University of South Africa, University of Pretoria, University of Stellenbosch and University of Witwatersrand.

Source : New Zimbabwe