Abigail Mawonde and Masline Mavudzi
Cambridge examinations are a luxury and Government is considering taxing the examinees, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora, has said.
A number of schools, especially those run by individuals and companies, still offer Cambridge examinations despite Zimbabwe having dumped the UK-supervised examinations almost 20 years ago.
Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony for Acacia Junior School in Harare last Friday, Dr Dokora equated Cambridge examinations to luxurious imports.
The minister said Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) exams met global standards.
“There are those who insist on taking Cambridge and we are in discussion with my colleagues — the Minister of Industry (Mike Bimha) and I am sure Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa is listening — we are saying if you are importing exams, you are importing a luxury commodity,” said Dr Dokora.
“Zimsec students have excelled wherever they have gone across the globe, including places such as Ukraine where they have excelled with top honours.”
On the new education curriculum to be effected in January next year, Dr Dokora said there would be greater bias towards the teaching of sciences, vocational and technical skills, Information Communication Technologies as well as major languages spoken in the country and Africa.
“The objective of the new curriculum is to shift focus from producing academically good students only to those who are entrepreneurs, job creators, and technically skilled, who can survive on their own without looking for jobs,” Dr Dokora said.
“Furthermore, our children will be required to undergo life skills orientation programme after completing “O” Level by being attached to private and public institutions as part of the application of theory to practice.”
Dr Dokora said it was time for private schools to embrace the new education curriculum.
He said the ministry would only licence private schools which conform to the qualities of good education and also warned them against deviating from the new curriculum.
“As we continue to develop more schools and redefine the education system, we have fully embraced private sector participation in developing schools at all levels and strongly encourage the sector to employ need-based curriculum in support of national interest,” said Dr Dokora.
“Without developing more schools and rehabilitation of existing ones, the successful implementation of the new curriculum might remain a pipe dream,” he added.
Dr Dokora challenged private schools to provide respectable infrastructure for pupils and teachers.
Minister Dokora applauded the initiative by Fundo Foundation Trust to build Acacia Junior School in Madokero Estate.
“Today we are encouraged by this initiative by Fundo Foundation to build this school. I understand they also have plans to build a secondary school in this community. My ministry would be fully supportive of such initiatives and would encourage them to consider taking similar initiatives in other areas,” he said.
“It is also one of President Mugabe’s legacies to provide more affordable schools close to the people in order for children to walk shorter distance to school.”
The school is scheduled to open next year.