PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday challenged schools to adopt a production system in their curriculum to equip pupils with practical skills to produce self-reliant youths.
Addressing thousands of people at the joint launch of the Presidential High Schools e-learning programme for the country’s southern region and the technologically advanced Landa John Nkomo High School at Manqe in Tsholotsho District, President Mugabe said the academically-inclined education system was a disadvantage to the country.
He said the launch of the e-learning programme was a way of creating self-reliance among the youths and of equipping the girl child with survival skills that would prevent exploitation.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said he was also impressed by the school’s efforts to enroll and educate members of the minority San community, who reportedly still do not appreciate the importance of modern schooling.
“Lest we forget, the colonial education system which we inherited was by and large, academically inclined and deliberately designed to create an ever desperate pool of job seekers who eagerly awaited and gave each other turns to join the white dominated and controlled labour market only to be exploited for the white man’s benefit,” said President Mugabe.
He applauded Vice President Landa John Nkomo for establishing the school, the first in Tsholotsho to have a fully equipped computer laboratory, designed to bring e-learning to the rural areas.
Vice-President Nkomo built the school, situated about 10km west of Tsholotsho Business Centre.
“The launch of the e-learning programme at this particular school would not have been possible without the Honourable Vice-President Landa John Nkomo’s quest for development and his visionary leadership,” said President Mugabe.
The President said VP Nkomo was inspired by the goals of the liberation struggle.
“He knew very well that our independence would be meaningless if the national socio-economic development agenda is not addressed. It is through the desire to uplift the livelihoods of our people that he mobilised resources for establishing a secondary school in this remote area, which is one of the districts that bore the brunt of the draconian racial policies of the settler governments, whose objective was to under develop indigenous people,” said President Mugabe.
He said the curriculum at Landa John Nkomo High School had a bias towards science and practical subjects, which tended to equip pupils for the adult world where they could use skills learnt for self-employment.
“Mindful of the vulnerability of the girl-child, the VP has taken measures to ensure that the school also focuses on skills which are tailor-made to develop the girls from an early age,” said President Mugabe.
He said the school’s deliberate focus on enrolling children from the disadvantaged and marginalised San community, thereby bringing them on board for social programmes and activities was in tandem with the Government policy of recognising and empowering minority groups wherever they were in Zimbabwe.
The President said the launch of the southern region’s e-learning programme was an indication that the Government was committed to improving the quality of education in the country.
The southern region covers five of the country’s 10 provinces — Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and South.
“This event comes two months after a similar launch for the northern region at Chogugudza Primary School in Mashonaland East on 28 March,” said President Mugabe.
He said the launch was an addition to the Presidential Schools Computerisation Programme that introduced the e-learning programme at schools.
“Comrades and friends, the speed of global technological and economic transformation demands that we move abreast of other developing countries if we are to derive the full benefits of the ICT revolution and turn the digital divide into digital opportunities for the nation,” said President Mugabe.
He said the country was looking forward to the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture to be the implementing agency to give the e-learning programme the attention it deserved.
“Through technology-enhanced learning, Zimbabwe is destined to produce school leavers with the requisite 21st century skills, which are critical factors in this worldwide digital economy. The establishment of Landa John Nkomo High School thus takes place at an opportune time when the ICT revolution in this country is just setting in,” said President Mugabe.
He donated 15 Hewlett Packard computers, complete with accessories, three printers and 50 blank DVDs to augment the school’s ability to impart e-knowledge to pupils and surrounding schools.
The Zimbabwe National Army was very instrumental in the construction of the school as they provided qualified builders.
The school now has five neatly painted classroom blocks including a well-equipped science block.
It also has a well-furnished administration block and a computer laboratory with modern computer sets.
The entire school, including teachers’ cottages, has been electrified while the computer laboratory has been connected to the Internet.
A water pump and water taps have also been connected for domestic and agricultural activities.
The school has been fenced while a neatly designed gate and sign post have also been erected.
There is also a poultry project centre, which is already running.