Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
PARENTS whose children learn at Dadaya High School in Zvishavane have taken Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora to court challenging the newly introduced education curriculum.
The parents, through the School Development Committee at the Church of Christ-run school, are accusing Dr Dokora of imposing the new curriculum on their children without consulting them.
The Dadaya High School SDC through its lawyers, Mutendi, Mudisi and Shumba Legal Practitioners, yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Dr Dokora and the school headmaster as respondents.
The parents are seeking an order suspending the use of the new curriculum at the school until proper consultations have been done.
They said introducing the new curriculum without consultations was in violation of their rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
The SDC said as key stakeholders they were not consulted by the Minister and they want the respondents to be permanently interdicted from effecting curriculum changes without consulting parents.
In his founding affidavit, Dadaya High School SDC chairperson, Mr Leopold Mudisi, argued that the implementation of the new curriculum compromised the education delivery system.
“The respondents made a complete paradigm shift from the conventional subjects offered at the school. Subjects such as physical education, sport and mass displays have been made compulsory. The subject combinations in terms of a circular made available to parents makes it impossible for pupils to fit into the existing system which the respondents are trying to phase out,” he said.
Mr Mudisi said the new curriculum was “an ambitious” project which would unnecessarily burden teachers and compromise the future of learners.
“The overhaul of the curriculum is impractical. The learning time for conventional subjects was always not enough and thus to introduce new subjects is ambitious and sounds myopic. There are no qualified teachers at the school to teach the new subjects and inevitably it will affect the pupils’ performance,” said Mr Mudisi.
The parents said there was no way curriculum changes can be implemented without consultations.
They said since they were responsible for payment of school fees and the future of their children, they were supposed to be consulted.
“The parents are the guardians of these pupils since they are minors and as such their views and recommendations are of paramount importance. The Government does not offer grants for students and it is the parents who have the burden of financing the education of their children,” said Mr Mudisi.
He argued that it would be cumbersome for Dr Dokora to facilitate the school to acquire qualified teachers with requisite skills and knowledge overnight against a background of a huge Government wage bill.
“The implementation of the new curriculum is not feasible as the school lacks teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge as well as resources such as infrastructure, books and sporting facilities.
“The school has no specialist teachers in areas such as music, art, film and the new foreign languages. The teachers are already overburdened by the workload as a result of the immense teacher-pupil ratio,” said Mr Mudisi. Dr Dokora was this week grilled in the National Assembly over the new school curriculum which seeks to expand learning spheres.
Members of Parliament across the political divide took turns to quiz Dr Dokora over the new curriculum, with some legislators saying the minister was a Muslim pushing for schools to introduce Islamic studies while removing Christian values from the education system.
The minister had to produce a Catholic rosary to show his religious faith while saying his ministry was not introducing a new religion in the education system, but enlarging the curriculum.
Dr Dokora said the new curriculum would be introduced in phases.
He defended the changes to the curriculum, saying they were aimed at adjusting and aligning existing education practices with emerging national and global trends.