The Sunday Mail
Government is fine-turning a raft of educational policies that had largely been expected to be introduced this Tuesday when schools open, saying the changes will be implemented systematically and gradually.
The Primary and Secondary Education Ministry had over the course of last year proposed a broad overhaul of the curriculum, raising questions from educationists and parents over their practicability.
Among the proposed changes was restructuring of Grade Seven subjects to include Agriculture and Heritage Studies, and Life Orientation Skills/industrial attachment upon completion of Ordinary Level.
It was indicated that the primary and secondary syllabi would be refined over two years starting this term.
Following endorsement of the Zero Draft Curriculum Framework last year, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said new subjects would be included in the curriculum starting January 2016.
But in an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Dr Dokora said the new curriculum would be introduced in phases.
Phase One later this year will see efforts directed to infrastructure development, teacher capacity and Internet connectivity at schools, among other endeavours.
“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; either to get a basic education or to pick up a skill that will help self-actualise.
“We will 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 have enhanced focus in preparing our school children to participate in the National School Pledge and competitions. Phase two comes on board in 2017 and I think we should talk about when it nears.”
The new curriculum aims to adjust and align existing education practices with emerging national and global trends.
Shifts will be made from content-based to competency-based curricula with a strong focus on learners’ capacity to apply knowledge and skills in practical ways.
From 1980, Zimbabwe has been refining the quality of education on offer starting with a massive schools expansion programme in the first decade of Independence under the Education for All policy.
The quality reforms also focused on curriculum relevance.
In 2014-2015, Government primed the primary and secondary school curriculum for needs-driven education to prepare learners for life and work.
The approach emphasises Mathematics, Science and Technology, vocational training, humanities and Heritage Studies.
The framework is based on the 1999 Nziramasanga Report which recommended leveraging economic and industrial development through practical subjects.
University of Zimbabwe Lecturer in the Department of Technical Education, Dr Peter Kwaira, said though the Nziramasanga recommendations had taken long to be implemented, it was worth noting that they were still relevant today.
However, head of the 1999 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training, Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga, has said the new curriculum left out significant aspects of the report.
Last year Dr Nziramasanga sparked national debate when he called for total scraping of Grade Seven examinations.