Zimbabwe Ministry of Education to review curricula
By Richard Nyamanhindi
On any given day, more than two million children in Zimbabwe go to school. Whether they sit in buildings, in tents or under trees, ideally they are learning, developing and enriching their lives.
For many of these children, though, school is not always a positive experience as shown through their dismal performance at Grade 7 or Form 4. Some endure difficult conditions, like missing or inadequate teaching materials. Others lack competent teachers and appropriate curricula. These conditions are not conducive to learning or development, and no child should have to experience them.
Access to education that is of poor quality usually compromises the future of learners. There is little point in providing the opportunity for a child to enrol in school if the quality of education is so poor that the child will not become literate or numerate, or will fail to acquire critical life skills.
Due to these challenges facing Zimbabwe’s education sector, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Honourable Lazarus Dokora recently announced a review of the school curriculum as part of efforts to strengthen a needs-driven education system.
“Our curriculum has lacked balance; our core subjects are largely academic such as Geography, English, indigenous literature, Mathematics, Science and History.”
“In the next four months, Zimbabwe is embarking on a comprehensive curriculum review process that will witness consultations with parents and other interested parties happening at school, district, provincial and national levels,” the Minister said.
The Education Minister added that the sector needed strengthening through a needs-driven education system which would have strong scientific, vocational and technical bias and would also stress a strong value system.
The Minister said education was an empowering component which needed to be exploited to the maximum as captured in the new development blueprint ZimAsset which sought to empower communities and individuals while growing the national economy.
The Minister also announced the introduction of Non-Formal or Second Chance Education which will be used to complement the formal education system in imparting academic and social skills. The non-formal education component will implement some of the recommendations of the 1999 Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training by increasing access to both basic and secondary education.
“There is an increased number of children who are leaving the school system without productive skills. This has precipitated the need to revitalise non formal education to assist these out of school youths,” said the Minister.
The review in the curriculum comes against the backdrop of poor performances by schools in public examinations from Grade Seven to ‘A’ Levels.
Zimbabwe’s education system was once among the best and at one time had the highest literacy rate on the continent before dropping behind Tunisia.
The curriculum review process and the second chance education are all components that are being funded under the Education Development Fund being administered by UNICEF and is looking at developing a transitional mechanism for development partners to jointly support the reinvigoration of the education sector in Zimbabwe, with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education assuming the leadership role.