The Sunday Mail
Charles Mushinga Sunday Mail Bridge
Troy Robert Chinyanga aged 11, a form 1 student at Goromonzi High School launched himself into the hall of fame by becoming the first ever Zimbabwean student to write and pass Cambridge O-Level Maths aged only 11. And he studied the subject in six months! It is the manner Troy managed to successfully achieve this outcome leading to complete mastery of mathematics that all stakeholders, parents and teachers must reflect and take a step back on the challenge the direction and impact of the new curriculum. Troy studied the whole syllabus within a period of only six Months and in the process effectively mastered the subject, concepts, and application of mathematics.
Troy mastered all mathematical concepts and their applications in fulfilment of University of Cambridge IGCSE learning outcomes and objective skills and his father, Roy Chinyanga, a UK based researcher, says he came up with a concept that can make any student achieve the same feat without being a genius.
“To achieve that you do not need rote learning but problem solving and critical thinking,” said the proud father who also used the same concept on several other Zimbabwean students.
Troy is now on target to completing A-Level Maths within 120days and in November he will be seating for his A-Level Maths Examinations.
The boy did not have to be a bookworm during those six months to achieve the feat.
“Nothing changed in my life; from playing on the computer most of the days and being punished for staying up late watching movies including playing on computer games. I have watched every film at Harare movie houses,” said the young boy.
It is the love of fast foods and hotdogs that made him obtain a Maths Paper 2 component a grade C which is arguably the easiest paper and scoring a grade B in maths paper 4 Component (The toughest).
Troy arrived at Specis College for his Paper 2 extended Maths Exams and went to the canteen. He ordered hotdogs and the storekeeper said they will be ready soon. Troy went into the exam thinking about his hotdogs and for a paper scheduled for one and half hours the young boy rushed through it and came out after 45 minutes.
His father (who is based in the UK) nearly fainted after receiving a call from Troy seated in the Canteen eating his hotdog.
“I guess kids will always be kids, and I’m glad he came back to pass the tougher paper,” said Mr Chinyanga. Troy recovered in the toughest paper scoring a grade B. This time his father ensured that he had Lunch at Nandos and a guaranteed two portions of hotdogs before his Paper 4 .
Mr Chinyanga used the same concept on the likes of Nyasha Talent Guzha who successfully studied, sat and passed three A-Levels Science Subjects in less than 5 Months post O-Level results announcement. That is still a World record for Zimbabwe. Nyasha went on to enter University at the age of 17 and graduating with a Master of Pharmacy degree at the University of western cape in South Africa.
Maud Chifamba showed that age is not a factor in student achievements entering University at the age of 15 and graduating with a First Class Accountancy degree.
The Zimbabwean education system is quick to classify these children as geniuses that cannot be imitated. But Mr Chinyanga thinks otherwise, and this is not the first time he has proved it.
He did the same with his other child, Logan Chinyanga who, aged 13, failed grade seven with 17 Units at Prospect Primary school and scoring 7 units in maths but six months later, he successfully wrote and passed O-Level Maths with a Grade B, English Grade C and Biology grade B.
He believes the education system has a lot to learn from his methods.
“Our system did not learn anything, was not responsive and neither was it adaptive. In November that same year Logan wrote A-Level Maths and passed with a grade B and that too did not change how we do things. To be fair, only Professor Dziramasanga approached me to learn from these experiences and technique. The casual tradition continued when Lizette Mudindo after failing A-Levels with only one point and given three months exposure to the system obtained 10 points. She went on to graduate as a Veterinary Surgeon at University of Zimbabwe. Troy learnt from the experiences of others,” said Mr Chinyanga.
Troy is a normal kid whose weird desire is to get access to an infinite internet package that allows him to brain download ALL car racing games and play them remotely with his brains. He aspires to be a Formula one car driver or a Video game designer.
But how did an 11-year-old break Zimbabwe record? Why did he master the subject of maths in 6 months? The answer is encapsulated within critical thinking of our children`s education at home and in school environments.
Mr Chinyanga argues access to resources is a factor that Troy enjoyed and so must be any child.
The Minister of Education, Professor Paul Mavima has shown his flexibility in dealing with the new Curriculum, even suspending certain aspects within it and Mr Chinyanga believes he has a few useful ideas.
“The Government has urged us to be active participants in the New Zimbabwe and iwe neni tine basa and mine starts now. This is for me to you the reader and to the many Troys hidden in Zimbabwe under the weight of a great system that is now needlessly being changed without proper critical evaluation,” said the enthusiastic educationist.
“The education system in Zimbabwe has argued against what he termed our current status quo-orientated curriculum that he says emphasised on rote learning, lacked problem solving, critical thinking and innovation. It has advocated for a new futuristic curriculum that addresses these gaps. I however have not seen any written evidence to support these assertions. There are no written research papers that have shown that our current curriculum lacked these traits. There is however multitude of evidence to show that both teachers and students only lacked resources for full implementation of the current curriculum that has successfully carried us to the top for years. The teachers left, there were no books and schools did not have any syllabuses to teach. A clearly simple and precise report produced by Nziramasanga with all good intentions cannot be implemented in resource-starved environments. No one has gone back to Nziramasanga to ask whether his recommendations can be achieved on a shoe string budget.
“It’s time to make smaller adjustments from evidenced based platforms and not emotional reactions overhauling the current Curriculum with devastating consequences to any child anywhere in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Chinyanga.
Mr Chinyanga believes Troy’s achievements are a product of critical thinking of the methodologies so successfully applied for decades at Goromonzi High school.
“Buildings and walls in schools are not determinants of conditioning Troy`s thought processes. A child has to be free to learn whatever they want at any given time and moment free from adult influences. When one fails to evaluate a system they tend to go into an overhaul default mode. No one has the right answer and formula to teach our children until now. Western adoption has led to blind adoption of foreign curriculum methodologies as excellent quality standards. In Western Cultures School is considered a safe place and parents are thought mostly as incapable. Therefore, parents are reduced to observers if not merely unaccountable short time homework toothless tsars and tsarinas.
“Students are recipients of 8-hour a day school prescription designed to delay their home presence as much as possible thus ensuring that they spend maximum times in schools as safer places.
“The new Curriculum must be designed on the premises that a family is the safest place in our culture and parents, and not the State, are accountable to their children`s learning and development and that they have as much bigger role in determining the depth of learning as the teachers at school.
“We have resorted to simply downloading information in our children or just focusing on what to learn and not HOW TO LEARN,” argues Mr Chinyanga. According to the proud father, Troy was taught how to learn and to learn effectively. Troy did not do tasks and neither did he do projects. He stuck to the demands of the specifications and mastered the subject of mathematics using the MX KOPS SYSTEM.
The MX KOPS SYSTEM is a proven methodology that guarantees mastering of a specific subject within a short period of time.
Troy teaches himself maths and has already nearly completed AS Level Pure Maths and Statistics. It did not take long for Troy to shock Goromonzi Upper Six Students seeing Troy calculating variance and standard deviations from a given data. With such impressive results in Troy and other multitudes of students in the UK that uses this system , one wonders whether the Maud Chifamba phenomenon was simply a tip of the iceberg.
Mr Chinyanga hypothesizes that there exist multitudes of similar children in Zimbabwe whose potential is being limited by weight of our own traditional beliefs on what actually is learning and how children are inherently supposed to learn.