Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
President Mugabe yesterday launched a US$3 million Teacher Capacity Development Programme aimed at upgrading teachers’ educational qualifications to effectively contribute to the curriculum and called for higher salaries for the educators.The Teacher Capacity Development Programme is a brainchild of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with input from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
He said Government fully supported the teacher capacitation development programme and had funded it to the tune of US$600 000 in addition to US$2,4 million donated by Unicef.
The President, who is also a teacher by training among other qualifications like economics and law, said the Teacher Capacity Development Programme would address technical and vocational training needs to which the Government had paid “lip service” for a long time.
“The products of the current curriculum are unable, and some are unwilling, to respond meaningfully to the signals from the labour markets,” he said. “Its products are employment seekers, not employment creators or wealth generators.
“We have paid lip service to technical and vocational education. This is a deficit which the Teacher Capacity Building Programme should address to ensure that the school curriculum is reviewed regularly as lack of requisite skills to review the curriculum would no longer be cited as an excuse after the inception of this innovative teacher capacitation and development programme.”
President Mugabe said the capacitation programme would cover a wide range of disciplines including sciences, mathematics, curriculum research and development, education planning, building and design, technical and vocational education, languages and humanities.
He said Information Communication Technologies were important for national development and Zimbabwe should occupy pole position on that front. He said Government was making efforts to intensify rural electrification to ensure that computers donated under the Presidential scheme were utilised.
“As a country we have an obligation to equip our teachers with competencies and pedagogic skills that will enable them to teach sciences and mathematics, and use information and communication technologies in teaching,” he said.
President Mugabe called for a review of the education curriculum to ensure that it responded meaningfully to labour market forces by way of employment and wealth creation.
He said it was important to improve the welfare of teachers for them to perform their duties unreservedly.
“We still must know more,” he said. “Those who make us know more must have the means, they must be capacitated and what does that mean? Give them more money as wages, yes I agree, they must be in a situation where they do not worry about food, clothes, families, travel and so on — they should be well salaried so we make them comfortable, comfortable physically, morally and spiritually so that they can undertake the process of research without worrying about that situation regarding their well being.
“We provide them now with proper means to do their research, their teaching, their instructions better and it is in those circumstances that certainly we can do better and improve their performance. That is how we get the proper teachers.”
President Mugabe said he was aware of the deplorable state of school infrastructure across the country and measures were being taken to address that.
He said the teacher capacitation development programme should take into account Ubuntuism and put the country’s history at the centre of education. President Mugabe said as a result of colonisation, the country’s history and that of many African states was Euro-centric.
President Mugabe said there was no reason for the economy to remain repressed given the vast natural resources that the country has.
“We have lots of resources lying underground and our agriculture is doing very well, the manufacturing sector is the only one that is suffering so far, so we are not a poor country,” he said.
“But we are poor in regard of the means to apply in order to get our riches that lie underground on to the surface so we can use our riches. We are poor in means, but rich in endowment.
“You cannot blame the Almighty, we can only blame ourselves for failing to get the riches which are underground and in the past having allowed exploiters — it is our gold which was being mined to benefit a few settlers and most was just going out and out.”
President Mugabe said development was only achievable if people worked together.
“We are all part of one society and there are areas that we must agree to work together,” he said.
“Tofundirana zvibhakera toenda kumaelections kuti vanhu vatisarudzeka. But togetherness as Zimbabweans that is what we fought for. That is what independence means.
“It means you and me are bound together by the phenomenon of the freedom we secured in 1980, by the fact of independence in 1980. It is not just Robert Mugabe who is free, (Morgan) Tsvangirai is also free.
“Even the man who stole my shoes yesterday and is in prison is also independent. They are all beneficiaries of independence ushered in 1980, but we do not want them to steal.”