Takunda Maodza Senior Reporter
THE Ministry of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education’s mandate is to reincorporate practical subjects and equip pupils with life skills, President Mugabe has said.Former Masvingo Governor Cde Josiah Hungwe heads the new portfolio which has sent tongues wagging in various quarters.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald, the President said the portfolio, which is expected to operationalise the Nziramasanga Commission Report on Education and Training, was brought under the President’s Office to provide for the expected curriculum changes which will touch three ministries — Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development led by Dr Olivia Muchena; Cde Lazarus Dokora’s Primary and Secondary Education and Sports, Arts and Culture under Cde Andrew Langa.
Though segregatory in approach, the Rhodesian education system that had the F1 and the F2 system, covered both academic and practical subjects.
The F1 stream was concerned mainly with the psycho aspect, that pursued academic subjects while the F2, although they had a bit of academic subjects, largely pursued practical subjects (the motor aspect) that taught life skills.
The F2s, which taught mainly psychomotor skills, was designed to confine Africans to the non academic field to create a pool of labour for farms and industry.
Practical subjects, the President said, had been neglected for some time denying pupils basic life skills.
“Nhasi uno vana vanosvika Form Four vagoenda Form six, vagoenda kuuniversity vasingazivi kana kuruka, kuveza mupini. Practical subjects had lost attention in our curriculum. Mwana anopedza secondary asingazivi kuti kana garden rinoitwa sei.
Those practical subjects must be brought back. There is too much emphasis on pure disciplines. We want a Form Four boy, yes, anoziva mathematics, what of practical subjects that give us life?
“Those practical subjects must come back into our school system and they need not necessarily count towards qualifying for ‘A’ level or for university, but for his own life. It is revising the curriculum such that it becomes a curriculum for living.”
The President noted that the Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry recognised the two dimensions of psycho and motor and accepted them and suggested that at the age of 11, a child must be graded.
“The Nziramasanga Report was done, but it has not been happily accepted and yet it is a scientifically grounded inquiry,” the President said.
He said the thrust of Cde Hungwe’s portfolio was to broaden and enrich the curricula to incorporate practical subjects. The portfolio, which is not a ministry, was situated in the President’s Office so that it brings about the anticipated curricula changes from primary school to university level.
“We will look into the Nziramasanga report in greater detail. We will have to co-opt quite a number of educational experts working under the Minister of State but without disorganising the smooth running of schools.
“We will have to think of ways to make sure with the curriculum changes, how does the system escalate to university education,” President Mugabe said.
The Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry Report was handed to President Mugabe on November 4, 1999 but its recommendations were not immediately implemented.
It called for the overhaul of the education system which it described as academically good, but irrelevant to indigenous Zimbabweans.
According to the commission, education should be for life and self employment, not just an academic exercise.
It proposed the creation of a system that would give scholars an opportunity to concentrate on subjects they are good at and match them with employment needs.
A structure proposed by the commission was expected to enable students to follow four “pathways” namely general/academic/business/commercial/technical and vocational with Dr Nziramasanga arguing that “every pathway leads to university”.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe has dismissed the notion that he was “soft pedalling” on the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive in his appointment of Cde Francis Nhema as Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment taking over from the forceful Cde Saviour Kasukuwere.
“That is not the case. The ideas, the objectives of Government must be pursued by every member of Cabinet. Yes, they may be different in terms style or presentations of individual ministers but this does not change the objectives set by Government.”