Tobias Mudzingwa: Herald Reporter
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council is this year expected to introduce examinations in minority languages, a move that is in tandem with the provisions of the new curriculum that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is spearheading.These subjects are Tonga, which is to be introduced at Advanced Level, while Nambia, Venda and Chewa will be introduced at Grade Seven level. Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora revealed this during a breakfast meeting organised by Zimpapers in conjunction with his ministry.
“We have three minority languages that are now going to be written,” said Dr Dokora. “At Advanced Level, ChiTonga will be written for the first time this year.
“The other languages have now gotten to Grade Seven, ChiChangani, Nambia, Venda, those are now at Grade Seven level. But we are progressively making quick progress to the next level which is O-Level”.
Dr Dokora defended the ministry’s position with regards to introducing the learning in indigenous languages at infant level, saying it helped children to grasp concepts easily and simultaneously promoting their identity.
He said there was no need for Zimbabweans to worry about implementation of the new curriculum.
“The infant school at four years, you do not expect these children to operate in the foreign language, they must operate in the indigenous language,” said Dr Dokora.
“It has been shown by psychologists that if you teach the child in the mother tongue and it masters that mother language, you can teach it any other language and you will be at home with that child.
“Out of nine primary school teachers, only three are implementing the new curriculum. The infant school teacher in ECD A, in Grade One and the junior school Grade Three teacher are the ones implementing the new curriculum and the rest are not. At secondary level, Forms One, Three and Five are implementing.”
Stakeholders who attended the breakfast meeting raised concern with the duration of the consultations before implementation of the new curriculum.
However, Dr Dokora said the ministry had done adequate consultations with stakeholders.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (ZIMTA) chief executive, Mr Sifiso Ndlovu echoed the ministers’ sentiments, saying as a union, they were aware of the process and people were given an opportunity to participate in the curriculum review process.
“I think it is an error to suggest that there was no consultation,” said Mr Ndlovu. “This process has been on the cards for 17 years and every Zimbabwean had an opportunity to be consulted in the first attempt to review the curriculum.
“We were part of the processes and schools were the centre of consultations and educators at those schools encouraged parents to come in.” Zimbabwe Democrats Teachers’ Union (ZDTU) leader Mr George Mushipe said they were never part of the consultations.
“If all stakeholders in education were consulted, there would not have been this criticism from across the country,” he said. “I do not remember being consulted on the matter at hand.”
Dr Dokora said the curriculum review exercise was conducted with only $2,3 million instead of the budget of $18 million.
He said Treasury had since released $13 million for the review process, while the Education Development Partners chipped in with $8,9 million and the Global Partnership for Education provided $4,5 million.
The new curriculum is in its second implementation stage which is expected to run through until the third implementation stage.