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The most useless degrees/diplomas to be avoided when enrolling for tertiary education in Zimbabwe

Zaniest Zimbabwean

Zimbabwe now has over 13 Universities, and a myriad of colleges that I can not list here due to space constraints.
With the proliferation of such institutions, some powerful yet misguided elements just ‘manufacture’ crazy degree programs and courses from out of the blue. And the sad thing is there is always a market for it because lets face it, every school leaver dreams of going to Varsity.
Now now we have those kids who would have scored very low grades at A-level and as such its difficult to enroll into meaningful programs like say, Medicine, Geology, Engineering, Computing, Finance or Law. What option do they have now besides enrolling in these wacky programs like Financial Intelligence, Sociology, Cultural studies etc.
While some may rightly argue that there’s no such thing as a useless degree because any education is a good education including many degrees from online schools and universities, I strongly feel that the pointless degrees I am going to mention in this article are an exception to that rule.
We all have heard the follow your passion/heart mantra. Yes it does pay, but only to few dedicated individuals with foresight and most of us do not have that perseverance encoded in our DNA.
An analysis of most of the Zimbabweans who are unemployed and or wallowing in poverty will reveal that they have studied the programs I list below. Bear with me as I list some of the most useless university degree and college diplomas in Zimbabwe.Based on high initial unemployment rates and low initial earnings, the following represent the least valuable programs for your time and financial investment.
Sociology and related degrees – Various Universities, UZ, MSU, GZU and Africa University. Sociology , like Philosophy and psychology, is one of those degrees that people do when they’re not quite sure what vocation they want to follow . Especially those scared of mathematics. These studies are definitely useless. Just because the work is hard does not mean it is not useless. Philosophy is actually one of the most useless subjects out there. I agree that degrees are not only about getting a job, well it’s a fun-time four years, open to stoners, egocentrics and those that love the sound of their own voice, who will finish the course even more confused about what they want to do in life and probably end up working at a supermarket like OK or TM. Philosophy itself is not useless, but its useless to study and philosophy shouldn’t be used as an educational tool for all, only for those who care, frankly because everyone has their own philosophy, you don’t need to be a genius to question and wanting to learn more, why would you need someone to teach you such in a very complicated matter?
Financial Intelligence Offered at Bindura University and Financial Engineering offered at the Harare Institute of Technology. Seriously why not just call it financial management. I am reliably informed by students from these two universities that it is really hard to find internship/attachment because of the name and nature of their degree problems. Especially the financial intelligence one, am told a lot of corrupt HR managers and other top brass at companies fear the Financial Intelligence students are the dreaded government spy agency(CIO) informants. Useless indeed. Must be abolished, or at least change the name or something.
Art/History/cultural, Theology and Religious Studies, African Languages and Culture studies bla bla – offered at various universities, notably Midlands state and Great Zimbabwe University. What career would you ever get with a degree in art history or cultural studies in Zimbabwe? My cousin is doing cultural studies at MSU, and I was honest with her, stop this stupid thing, its hard earning a living with such careers but as is often the case with such people she is stubborn and believes she might become another Da Vinci or some such figure. Maybe she will become an art gallery curator or something of the sort, but how many of these does the world actually need? Most art, history and cultural courses consist of a selection of well-to-do teenagers and arty-hippy types deliberating over the same Khoi Khoi and ancient African rock paintings for four, even five years straight. It’s time to move on!
Political Science, Politics etc offered at UZ and MSU amongst others, this is one of the dumbest degrees ever. Look at the Zimbabwean setup, the most influential of political leaders did not study political science, now contrast that with educated fools like Mutambara, Ncube and Madhuku. Who would you want to work for when you finish your political science degree in Zimbabwe? If we were in the USA or some developed country it would be prudent, but Zimbabwe really, work for ZANU-PF or MDC? Really? Need I say more? No? Good.
Marketing( add Management too) is offered at almost all Zimbabwean Universities, colleges etc. Much as marketing is the most essential part of a business because its what drive sales, its really useless as a field of study. Lets face it, everyone knows marketing, everyone(well boys that is) has asked a girl out, that is marketing, everyone has tried to find a job at one point in their lives, that’s marketing, so everyone knows it. Now, you will just end up a sales person/ sales rep doing the same crap as someone who has done IMM or some such diploma from these not so reputable colleges. Imagine earning commission selling unsaleable products and services like Security services, soap, cars etc. Basically its advisable to study a “hard”or quantitative program which equips one with practical skills, a specific skills set, something that can make you valuable to a company. Whenever a company goes through hard times its the Marketing and HR Managers who are first to be shown the door.
Meanwhile, one area to watch out for is an Accounting . Accounting will soon become irrelevant because of complex software packages being developed as well as the real threat from professionals certified by ACCA and chartered accountancy firms etc. Those with these certifications are more respected and have more experience.
Another program that will soon become irrelevant is Journalism. If you’re in the business of selling ads for printed periodicals, you need to find another job. Ditto if you’re a marketing person whose career is built on creating ads and buying ads for such publications. Many magazines are operating at a loss and newspapers are dropping like flies, and the sales and marketing job associated with them are gone for good.The primary reason that print periodicals are dying is that online publishing does a much better job at communicating that kind of information. I wont delve into the reasons, but am sure you all know why online newspapers are better than printed newspapers, free, and easy to store and retrieve info are the majors and for that you don’t need a degree in journalism really. I personally run a successful website armed with O-Level English and IT Skills, granted my grammar sucks and I am not the best of writers out there, but I know many a successful online journalists making big bucks,who never studied Journalism.
So then what programs should one study? I am making these recommendations based on an objective analysis of the career trends in Zimbabwe.
Choose a program that you will enjoy studying.
Choose a program that will pay the bills and leave some spare money to blast.
Choose a program that has a job market. Do a little research first. talk to the seniors at the university of your choice, especially those who have gone for industrial learning, how hard it was to get jobs etc.
In general For those in Arts I recommend Law and Social Work. For those in Business, I recommend Business Studies, Banking, Business and Computing, Electronic Commerce etc For those in Sciences, Most Engineering programs are great Especially Electronic/Electrical Bio, Mechanical etc but avoid purist programs like a degree program like Pure Physics, Chemistry, Biology etc, you will just end up a Teacher or lecturer and we all know how it sucks to be one in Zimbabwe.


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For Advanced level students, this is how your essays should be like* at least*
QUESTION: Consider the arguments for and against Rostow’s stages of development.

Rostow, an American economic historian in 1960 suggested that countries pass through what he called five stages of development which are the traditional society stage, the pre-condition for take-off stage, the take-off stage, the driver for maturity stage and the age of maturity stage. In order for one to fully conceptualize and understand Rostow’s theory it is of high intensity to define or give an overview of what a development theory should be. According to Potter et al (1999) a development theory has to deal with socio-economic phenomena of underdevelopment and development and it should be based on problem analysis and offer opportunities for development strategies. The whole idea behind this essay is to analyze Rostow’s development theory assessing its strength and weaknesses. The strength of this theory lies in the idea that the theory can be used to trace the historical development of countries, to categories countries into certain developmental stages, to foretell the pace at which certain countries shall develop at. However, weaknesses of his stages overweighs strength for example, his assumption of uniformity in development is unrealistic, His assumption that all states develop in a linear fashion, His theory being only a measure of the developed countries, possibilities of failure not considered, his findings not empirical, same stages not chorological and others as shall be discussed in full length below. Examples shall be drawn from developed countries and developing countries. In doing so Rostow’s theory shall be juxtaposed with other development theories so as to have a well-balanced and bias-less discussion.
Arguments in support or in agreement with Rostow’s stages of development are few but it is critical to discuss them first before diving into those against. Rostow’s theory has proved to be useful in categorizing countries into different development stages. According to the model, each country is in one of these five stages of development. With more economically developed countries (MDCs) in stage four or five whereas less economically developed countries (LDCs) are in one of the three earlier stages.
Rostow’s stages or theory has also been used in tracing the development history of countries as well as foretelling how countries shall develop in future. The model asserts that today's MDC’s passed through the other stages in the past. For example, the United States of America was in stage one prior to independence, stage 2 during the first half of the 1800’s, stage 3 during the middle of the 1880’s, and stage four during the late 1800’s, before entering stage 5 during the early 1900’s. The model assumes that LDCs will achieve development by moving along from an earlier to a later stage.
Another policy recommendation derived from Rostow’s stages of growth has been the principle of take-off. The stage states that self-sustained growth requires a large increase in investment. This policy proved to be very useful especially during the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Western Europe after World War II. However, unfortunately this policy has proved to be less successful in dealing with underdeveloped economies. As Easterly (2001) points out according to Solow’s original insight capital fundamentalism has failed to advance growth in poor countries. The foreign aid based on financing the gap has not delivered any results, and it has created wrong economic incentive.

However, at this juncture weakness of Rostow’s stages of development are to be discussed. Rostow has been greatly criticized for thinking that all countries develop in a linear fashion. His theory assumes the existence of the same conditions of growth in different countries hence overlooking the heterogeneity and diversity that shape every nation and these differences are intrinsically attached to the phenomenon of development. In truth, Rostow's theory following this line does little in making economists understand the economic and social conditions of a country, or to find out more about its possibilities and perspectives of development. There is more to be done if one is to deeply understand the complexities of development for example one needs to study the different conditions (arising from history, culture and geography) that the countries are endowed with. Meier (1976) cements the above idea by noting that, there is no linear sequence that can adapt itself to the history of every country. When one defends that every economy must follow the same line of development, one is oversimplifying the complexity of the forces of development.
In-line with the above, Rostow propounded that countries develop in a uniform manner meaning there is a uniform distribution of labour, technology and capital. In reality the development of countries differ according to their resource distribution therefore labor, technology and capital are pre-determinant conditions needed for a country to move from one stage to another. In support of this, Todaro (2002) enumerates historical background, size, endowments of resources, ethic and religious composition, importance of public and private sectors, nature of industrial sector, degree of dependence on external factors, distribution of power, institutional and political structure as structural differences between countries which dictates the pace at which a country develops.
Another weakness within Rostow’s theory lies in his assumption that the traditional society development stage is essential and a must for every country to pass through it. However, in a divergent thinking it can be noted that this traditional society stage has some applicability problems. Potter et al (1999) has it that a number of nations such as United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia were born free from traditional societies and they derived the pre-conditions from Britain, a country already advanced.
In the same vain but now in relation to the issue of chronological order, theorists like Hunt (1989) and Moreira (1978) have disagreed with Rostow’s idea that countries develop in chronological order from the traditional society to age for maturity stage. They argue saying that the age of high mass consumption is so defined that certain countries like Australia and Canada have entered this stage before even reaching maturity. In another view, the stages of economic growth mentioned by Rostow are not mutually exclusive and they may overlap each other. The characteristics of earlier stages maybe found to be mixed up with the characteristics of later stages or a situation where a later stage may have some remnants of previous stage. Hence, the agitation of development stages in chronological order or the splitting up of the process of economic development into various stages is subject to serious limitations. Another area not considered by Rostow is that many countries make false starts, reach a degree of transition and then slip back, or as is the case in contemporary Russia, slip back from high mass consumption (or almost) to a country in transition. Also, according to one critic the period of mass consumption is nothing else but minus its ideological overtone. Another objection raised against mass consumption is that undue emphasis has been laid on national power, social welfare and consumption. Again one can note that war and economic sanctions can drive the model to a halt or even backwards in extreme circumstances. This would be applicable to the current political situation in Iraq. Thus, there is no straight line in which development should follow but rather it is related to what the economic situation maybe in a country hence there can be twists and turns.
Rostow’s theory is embedded within the Eurocentric framework hence its applicability in third world countries lives a lot to be desired. Hilsenrth (1993) asserts that this model was based on European countries, thus it does not include the development of developing countries that were colonised. Factors like the effects of colonisation, and poor governance cripple any sort of development in Africa as compared to European countries.
In today’s world due to the effects of globalisation it is difficult if not impossible to apply Rostow’s stages of development. According to Giddens (1991) globalisation is a process of intensification of worldwide economic as well as social and cultural relations. It is an integration of markets, business sector and a production system which are a result of strategic behaviour by powerful people. With this it is now possible for a country to by-pass other stages of development or to move at a faster rate than what Rostow proposed through brain gain, importing goods and technological machinery or through cultural hybridisation.
Rostow does not elaborate on what are the pre-conditions stated in the transitional stage and the conditions for take-off. He however, presses more emphasis on the availability of capital hence, he does state that the main engines for economic growth are savings and investment. Rostow underestimated the effects of globalisation thus missing the point that if a country suffers a financial gap (lack of savings and thus, low investments), it could turn into a receiver of external aid which would help balance such gap and help it to move to another stage on his development scale. This assumption was based mainly on the Marshall Plan which, according to Todaro (2012), succeeded only because the beneficiaries gathered a number of conditions for example the development of transport facilities, skilled workforce and integrated market which allowed the conversion of new capital into higher levels of output in an efficient way.
One upon generally going through Rostow’s theory cannot help it but observe that his theory is too vague and abstract. It positions countries as isolated entities, whose development are not influenced by external actors nor by the terms of trade. Thus, the theory proves to be quite unpractical and unrealistic in a world shaped by international forces. International forces like financial markets, trade dynamics or migration flows. In a similar frame of thought, the empirical coverage of Rostow’s analysis is narrow and inadequate. The date analysis by him relate to about a dozen of countries or so over the past century. Even for the countries, the key statistics have been highly unreliable till now. Hence, generalizations drawn from such a narrow statistical base cannot be very reliable.
Having discussed the strength and weaknesses of Rostow’s stages of development, it can thus be concluded by safely saying that weaknesses of Rostow’s theory outweighs the strength. Rostow overlooked the issue of globalization, his findings somehow lacked empirical data, and the fact that he pressed more emphasis on uniformity and linearity in all states and the issue to do with chronological order in his stages have been topical issues among scholars in disputing Rostow’s theory. However, to a lower degree there are some strength that can be picked from his theory like the issue of using Rostow’s theory to determine the historical development of the economy of a certain country or to foretell its future and also to categorise states into development stages. Hence, one can propose that it is time for development practitioners to realize that generalizations and universal principles cannot be applied in a homogenous way, that countries are a construct of different social, economic and historic conditions, and thus cannot be subject to linear methodologies. Each country is the result of different dynamics, and contrary to what Rostow suggested, they can't follow the exactly same path to growth and development as other nations. Such assumptions have been a common practice, with development institutions neglecting the diversity of the countries they work with thus a lot still needs to be done in as far as this issue of developing development theories is concerned.





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