Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
THE new education curriculum is set to come into effect today, with schools in the Matabeleland region saying they are ready for the changes.
In separate interviews yesterday, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South Provincial Education Directors (PEDs) said they were ready to teach pupils using the new curriculum.
Bulawayo Metropolitan province PED Mr Dan Moyo said nothing was going to prevent them from implementing the new curriculum.
“Schools are opening tomorrow (today) and we’re ready to teach our pupils using the new curriculum. So far I’ve not received any news on challenges that may prevent any school in this province from doing so,” he said.
“We received syllabi for all departments and the only setback we may have is parents failing to pay fees on time. Our Grade Zero and Form One pupils even managed to get places in various schools and we’re ready for everything.”
Mr Moyo said although Bulawayo was in need of teachers to fill some places, his office was going to establish the exact number of teachers needed when schools open.
“We’ve been having inter-provincial transfers and some of our teachers have retired. We need to ensure these gaps are filled in the first weeks of the term before we can establish how many teachers we need in Bulawayo to fully implement the curriculum,” he said.
Mrs Boithathelo Mnguni, the PED for Matabeleland North province, said they were ready but had some vacancies.
She said the new curriculum was all about refocusing and thinking differently about how traditional subjects are taught.
“For example when teaching English language, we now want to ensure that pupils also develop their poetry and theatre arts skills which they will use even after school to make a living. The new way of teaching requires training so that teachers teach the general subjects focusing on how the same could be useful in sustaining the child,” Mrs Mnguni said.
She said they had made recommendations to the Government to hire more teachers.
“We’re ready and all our scheme books are in accordance with the new education curriculum. My only worry is that my early childhood development (ECD) pupils may fail to go to school given that many parents are now working hard in their fields,” said Mrs Mnguni.
“We need about 3 000 teachers; 2 000 trained for ECD, 400 for junior schools and about 600 teachers for secondary schools. If we could get these we would be 100 percent confident about implementing all facets of the new curriculum.”
She decried the fact that some parents were not prioritising the payment of school fees.
“Things are hard for everyone but we have those parents who deliberately choose not to pay school fees. Sadly our levy collection has been very low and that affects some of our planning,” Mrs Mnguni said.
Matabeleland South PED Mrs Tumisang Thabela said her province was also ready for the new curriculum.
“Am actually in a meeting with district education officers to finalise a few issues. Our school teachers have been trained and from our end we have done everything to make sure all goes well,” said Mrs Thabela.
“My only worry is the potential effect of rain, hailstorm and floods on school infrastructure and pupils since it is still raining. We hope parents will do their part and pay fees and ensure that our pupils are safe all the time.”
Meanwhile, parents yesterday said they had found the going tough to pay school fees due to the economic situation, hence they were resorting to loans.
In a snap survey conducted by The Chronicle, several parents said the current cash crisis had forced them into getting loans.
“My son is going to be in Form Four and I spent the whole festive season stressing over money. With no jobs it is a miracle that some of us made this day possible for our children who also need groceries, stationery and toiletries besides the school fees. I hope the school heads will understand the situation after paying more than 50 percent of the fees,” said one man who said his son learns at Dadaya High School.
Another parent who spoke on condition of anonymity said she had to seek the services of loan sharks to raise fees.
“My child is going to be in Form Three at Inyathi High and I had to do all I could to ensure that she goes to school after paying fees. I do not know how I will clear the debt but I am relieved that I managed to pay fees. These children must complement our efforts and make sure they excel in their studies,” said the parent.