Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Fay Chung - A Biography

Fay Chung was born to Chinese immigrant parents in Apartheid Rhodesia. She trained as a teacher and spent the sixties working in Zimbabwe's high-density suburbs teaching black youths who were starved of education in an increasingly turbulent political climate. She attained her M Phil in Literature at Leeds University (the same year as Clare Short and Jack Straw) before joining the Liberation Struggle in 1973 and risking her life for black majority rule. She spent four years in refugee camps in Mozambique developing Teachers' Curriculum for the thousands of children and youths forced to flee the civil war.

In 1980 she returned to Zimbabwe and founded ZIMFEP, an NGO that gives education with agricultural production to war veterans and their families. She was the Deputy Secretary for Administration in the Ministry of Education before becoming Minister in 1988. In 1980, 5% of the black population had access to education; by the time she left to work for the United Nations in 1993, Zimbabwe had achieved 95% primary education - a model that she replicated in developing countries around the world as Head of Education at UNICEF. Fay left government after her attempt to develop a Ministry of Employment Creation, which she envisioned would provide opportunities for work for the now impressively educated youth population - her vision was not supported by the government and so she resigned from Cabinet and left Zimbabwean politics.

Zimbabwe's soaring unemployment and the emigration of its educated masses was an event that she foresaw and felt partly responsible for. In 1998 she moved from UN Headquarters in New York to Addis Ababa where she founded the Institute for Capacity Building in Africa for UNESCO. She is also a founder of FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists), ASHEWA (Association for Strengthening Higher Education for Women in Africa) and the patron of the Women's University in Africa. She concurrently attained a doctorate in Education, and while witnessing Zimbabwe's economic plunge, and most recently attained a BA in Economics from SOAS. She returned to Zimbabwe in 2004 to analyze the political situation and work on women's empowerment programmes. Her life has been committed to the principles of democracy, and education and opportunity for all, and she has written numerous articles and papers analyzing Zimbabwe's political and economic demise, including her book 'Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories of the Liberation Struggle for Zimbabwe'.

1 comment:

ritawong said...

Wishing you good luck all the way from Canada, Fay! I admire your public spirit and dedication to the people of Zimbabwe.