Education is a turbulent field. It is never static.In philosophy we say static ideas are above all destructive. Ideas that are not moving with time are very destructive for any society or country.
Education is a venture with obvious interests, one cannot have education which is neutral.
As long as we are talking about education we are talking about a specific vehicle which is used for certain interests such nation development, and without that in mind it will be grappling in the dark, and there are to be no tangible results at the end of the day.
National problems in whatever context they might be, they are supposed to be addressed through education because when you talking about manpower development you talking about education.
So to have the Government changing the school curriculum from time to time it is a normal thing in any society and it is actual commendable.
The world that we living is so fast paced.
The industry, our social life and even the politics is changing every day and not in Zimbabwe only but across the globe, therefore in order to catch up with all the changes we need education.
In all this commotion, education is the only refuge we have as societies and the one thing that is keeping us in touch with the fast changing world.
Thus it important that Government invest in education and its youths. If the youths are not properly moulded it will again be a disaster for the country.
A government that does not invest in education is heading for disaster.
That is why we see the Governments across the globe investing so much resources in the education sector as they will be considering unemployment, a limping economies and many other factors.
This is why in the new curriculum there is emphasis on vocational training. Zimbabweans have been able to survive even in the harshest of times and it is because of education which helps us stay strong even in times of difficulties.
Once you have education under control it can have effects in other sectors of the economy.
New education curriculum
In terms of more learning areas to be introduced, the question is more of what, what is the value of that learning and quality of that learning.
As a nation we can have a situation whereby there can be very few subjects but the quality education will be second to none.
There are also instances where there will be many learning areas and poor education. So if we are talking of more learning areas, the question now is their relevancy to the world that we are living in today.
We can come up with a brilliant concept on paper, but get wrong results at the end of the day.
There is need for an analysis on what to add and what to remove so that at the end of the day we come we with something that is relevant, balanced and beneficial to the nation.
The introduction of more learning areas is a noble move if they are relevant, if they are applicable to the world that we are living and if they are beneficiary to the nation, no matter how many they are.
There have been concerns that there the learning areas are too much, but what might be too much for a parent might not be too much for young minds that are still fresh and flexible.
For example, most children nowadays are already familiar with certain aspects of the technological gadgets such as the keyboard because of mobile phones, thus the bottom line is not about quantity but quality.
If it is too much of useful and relevant issues then that will good for our children as well as for the nation.
In the same vein the life orientation skills programme is an important issue because after education the students there is need for them to be familiarised with the reality.We do not educate them for a fictious world, but we need to educate them for reality.
They need a hand on experience after the theory lessons so that they do not live in an imaginary world.
If we talk about technical vocational areas, they need to be familiar with the workshop world and the machinery and how industry runs because they are the leaders of tomorrow.
The Nziramasanga Commission was done in 1999 and it came with very bright ideas, however it took long before it was implemented.
It is however fortunate that in the new curriculum and Zim-Asset, the Nziramasanga Commission Report was incorporated and this shows how good the ideas were since they have stood the taste of time as they are still relevant.
Back in 1989, I wrote a book called “The Study of Teacher Training in Line with Vocational Training in Zimbabwe”.In this book I was looking at the many changes that were taking place back in the 1980s in line with the teacher education that was taking place then.
I was actually saying there is need to keep teachers informed on the ever changing world through refresher courses.
There is nothing you can do in terms of the new curriculum without taking teachers on board because they are the implementers and it will be unfair for them to implement something that they are not aware of.
In as much as we think of the children, let us also think of the teachers.
If a mother is ignorant about certain important issues in life, the children are in the wrong hands.
The teachers need to be informed and equipped for this new curriculum as they are an integral part of this new curriculum.
There is also need for curriculum change in teacher training institutions so that they remain relevant and useful in the school education system.
ECD and the curriculum
ECD is the foundation of any form of development that is needed in a country. Any country that does not invest in its ECD is destined to be doomed because at ECD the minds are still flexible, they are innovative and the minds are not rigid.
It only requires the approach of the curriculum at that level to be framed correctly and the teachers to use right approach to the children because if we get it wrong at that level we will be talking of a lost generation.
In some countries such as Canada, Russia and China emphasis of technical subjects start at ECD level however it is the approach that matters.
For example, a subject on water can be taught from ECD up to PHD level, but what is fine-tuned is the approach.
At ECD level there is recommendation of many subjects because these are new arrivals in the area of information and they need as much information as they can get.
In Israel in their Kabuki tradition for instance, they start identifying talent at that level.
This goes back to teacher development and training so that are able to identify talent at an early stage so that we do not lose manpower which will be meant for different sectors of the economy.
In terms of learning areas they should be many because these children have plenty of time.
However the learning areas have to narrow as one goes to secondary level and uUniversity level because they have to specialise.
The question now is to what extent these teachers are equipped to teach technical subjects at ECD because most of them are not really equipped.
The relationship between education and national development in Africa has been an issue from immemorial.
National development be the industrial aspect, the social or the political framework, they require education.
When we talk of skilled man power, I mean those people who can manipulate machines and make informed decisions, they require education.
For example, for someone specialising in Metal Work to be able to distinguish between different types of metals, they require education which will then develop the country.
These days the best way to think about development is to think about the people.
We are saying you have to ask yourself, are the people comfortable? We have known of countries where they have rich economies but the ordinary person is suffering.
We want stream line and say how education answer to poverty, misery and unemployment and if education is doing that then it will surely bring about development in any country.
Dr Peter Kwaira is a lecturer with the University of Zimbabwe’s Department of Technical Education
Education overhaul in phases
Dr Lazarus Dokora
This year will be introducing phase one (of the review of the education sector) which has a lot of issue to be implemented.
Phase one includes infrastructural development and already various adverts have in the Press concerning that.
In terms of sources of funding we are looking at loans, building levies and bonds.
Another area in phase one is planning and promotion of non-formal education. Thousands of people if not millions want education and either to get a basic education or to pick up a skill that will help self-actualise.
Those that want skills will find the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education available open for business and with the now the acquisition of new vehicles for the department monitoring across all provinces will now be easier.
We continue with the deepening of the teacher education programmes and we will want to publish some of our specialised teacher education journals and some research outputs from teachers.
We will also enhance focus in preparing our school children to participate in the national school pledges and competitions.
In the first year we will be working on connectivity issues particularly following the cluster hubs for the ministry.A huge ministry such as ours relies on evidence based policy formulation and we have a number of modules that carry data from the Ministry and increased focus will be paid so that these modules will respond timeously to information request by our own senior managers, TPIS, ENICY,CDP and also assisting schools with web hosting. We will continue to collaborate with Nash, Naph, Zeta, NAIO and those association relating to female heads, teachers associations – Zimta and PTUZ – we will continue to work them.
This above was extracted from an interview with Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora, by The Sunday Mail Reporter Debra Matabvu
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