Smooth sailing for all education stakeholders Legislators feel the ministry has turned learners into “Jacks of all trades but masters of none” by heaping more than 30 learning areas under CALA thereby defeating the initial objectives of imparting creativity and innovation consistent with the Second Republic’s thrust of modernisation and industrialisation of the country.
Primary school children in class

Primary school children in class

Tatenda Charamba Features Writer
When first introduced, the new education curriculum received mixed reactions from pupils, educators and parents. As time has progressed both pupils and teachers have had time to acclimatise to the curriculum. It is essential for the curriculum to continuously be brought under review in order for it to be fine-tuned to produce the best for the learners.

Engaging teachers in strategically crafting the guidelines, terms and conditions of this development is vital as teachers are key stakeholders in the education sector.

Their frequent and close interaction with a student is a significant determinant to the favourable outcome of this development in the education sector. Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Dr Takavafira Zhou said the inclusion of teachers in the modelling of the new curriculum was critical as they engaged with the learners and had a better understanding and input to give.

“Despite the direct impact that the new education curriculum has on teachers and students, there has been very little involvement of them in the shaping of the new education curriculum. There is need for broad engagement of teachers as the implementers of the new curriculum. Teachers should be involved in the development of the syllabi and text books,” said Dr Zhou.

“Teachers have a hazy idea of what this curriculum is about as a lot of planning was done in exclusion of them. This defies the whole purpose of this initiative.”

Dr Zhou reiterated that the new curriculum was a progressive initiative that only needed to consider consultations of the major and influential stakeholders in the education sector.

“The new curriculum is a necessary and welcome move. It is the methodology being used that needs to be addressed. There is need for a holistic and sober approach so as to address the problems currently being faced by students after school. This curriculum must guarantee quality public education punctuated by life-saving skills as enunciated in global agenda 2030.

“The success of the implementation is hinged on national financial support for the infrastructural development, development of syllabi and development of material for use in schools.

“Clear development of standards of assessment of students in order to promote uniformity and inter-operability in Zimbabwean schools is very essential in making objectives of the new curriculum attainable,” he added

According to Dr Zhou proper implementation of the new education curriculum was beneficial to the whole nation as it would create a favourable environment for development.

“Proper implementation will result in blending of theory and practice which will ensure pupils using acquired knowledge beyond the classroom. Education will become a vital cog of societal development and improvement of our culture.

“An engaging curriculum is a panacea to our current challenges. An example is that the study of STEM subjects will result in an increase in the number of production of science students. Their numbers should match the industry they can work in,” he said.

Chairperson of the department of Technical Education at the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Peter Kwaira said this development was better referred to as a revised curriculum as introductions made were based on what was already in existence.

“From a philosophical stand-point, I strongly feel that there is a danger in total reference to something as being totally new when discussing an enterprise like the curriculum.

“Yes, we have had very important aspects introduced into our curriculum for the sake of improving it in the interest of the common good at national level, but we cannot then argue and say we now have a totally new curriculum altogether.

“Our curriculum in Zimbabwe has always had a strong foundation dating back from the days before even colonialism as evidenced by the capability of our fore fathers to design and develop a massive structure like Great Zimbabwe,” said Dr Kwaira.

Dr Kwaira added that referring to the curriculum as new would result in a total loss of what we had in the education system before.

“If we really claim to have something totally new, we are in danger of throwing away the baby together with the tub-water. Rigidly referring to the new curriculum suggests scrapping everything belonging to the past and adopting the so-called new and that is very costly,” he said.

“Again, from a philosophical perspective, strictly referring to the ‘new’ in terms of the curriculum suggests new schools, new teachers and new books. In fact, there are many teachers who are resisting the so-called new curriculum, fearing for their jobs instead of being afraid of the curriculum.

“They simply need to be ready to learn new ways of doing things while still taking advantage of their previous experience as a reference point in terms of professional development.” Dr Kwaira highlighted that children were flexible and had no problems adapting to change as long as they were allowed the chance.

“Children have no problems adapting to the new ways of doing things. In fact, they are more flexible than their teachers and parents. This is why parents get help from their children after buying new gadgets.”

He added that the suggested educational system encouraged a conversational type of teaching which was better than the old system that spoon fed the pupil or student.

“As teachers, we need to move away from the traditional belief of the banking concept of education where the teacher is believed to have all the knowledge to fill the empty vessels in the form of the poor children’s minds.

“According to Paulo Freire’s views on ‘Education for Liberation’, what we need now as educationists is to swallow our pride and be prepared to engage in dialogue with those we think we are teaching.

“Effectively, teaching and learning is no longer a one-way affair. Even at ECD levels, teachers are now supposed to be prepared to learn from those wonderful minds. Our future is safe in those little and gentle hands,” he said According to Dr Kwaira the modern education curriculum upheld creativity and this benefited both the teacher and the student.

“In the old model, the process of teaching and learning was a one-way affair, where only teachers were in charge.

“Pupils/students are now expected to be equally responsible for their affairs with teachers only acting as facilitators of the process of teaching and learning.

“This is why teachers are now going to benefit from the children they teach, particularly regarding creativity because children are more creative. All we need to do is to assist by chipping in with constructive ideas and ensuring safety in their adventures.

“We will be more useful as teachers as we will be coming in as moderators instead of rulers in the classroom. This will result in creation of more responsible and independent thinkers, creative problem solvers, employers rather than desperate job seekers and masters of own destiny,” he said.

Mukudzei Chatora who is a Form 3 student at a local school said she agreed with the objectives of the new curriculum but had grievances on the aspect of restriction on the number of subjects one can sit for at Ordinary Level.

“The new curriculum is necessary in our education system because there is a great need to produce a different and self-sufficient breed of students.

“Our fear is that we might not be able to secure ourselves jobs after we are done with school. This fear can only be dealt with if we are equipped with skills that enable us to thrive economically without necessarily acquiring a formal job.

“Students have to be allowed to study what they want. We are exposed to a system whereby results determine whether you are a science, commercial or humanities student. One may have excellent results and be placed in a science class yet their passion is in humanities.

“Such a student should be allowed to study other subjects they are interested in so that they broaden their options,” she said.

Dexter Ndluliki, a Masters in Education Curriculum Studies candidate at Great Zimbabwe University says the new curriculum has changed their approach and content.

“Our areas of study are in sync with the requirements of the new education curriculum which is in its implementation stage,” he said.

“It seems the curriculum is slowly gaining popularity. The new curriculum brought in a new element, the focus on talents that are not limited to strict academics only.

“The complaints about material are slowly starting to die down as content creators and writers have responded swiftly to the gap,” Ndluliki said. According to him, Zimbabwe stands to have the best curriculum in Africa once the implementation challenges wither with time. President Mugabe recently hailed the new education curriculum as it resulted in a new progressive way of learning.

“The issue of sustainability is embedded in the new curriculum which fosters entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship education and training is meant to inculcate abilities for learners at all levels with knowledge, values of Unhu/Ubuntu, skills and appropriate motivation and to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings,” he said.

Continuously engaging stakeholders and using their input to revise the curriculum is the best way to ensure that those affected by it gain the most from it.

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