Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT is reviewing the skills-based schools curriculum amid concerns over the implementation of continuous activity learning assessment (CALA) by parents and guardians.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education adopted the skills-based education curriculum in 2017 which was meant to respond to changes in the education sector.
The new curriculum has increased learning areas with the aim of producing pupils with skills to solve problems instead of just theorising issues.
The curriculum review is expected to provide direction on areas to be focused on starting next year as the country steps up measures to achieve an upper middle income economy by 2030.
In an interview yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said the primary and secondary education curriculum review is meant to strengthen it while also addressing its weaknesses. “We are in the process of reviewing the education curriculum this year and this does not mean that we are changing it. We want to find things that need to be improved. The review is about having a look at the curriculum on what it has achieved, its strengths and weaknesses since it was introduced,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
He said all stakeholders in the education sector are expected to contribute towards the review of the skilled based curriculum.
“We are going to be engaging teachers as represented by various layers such as the Nation Association of Secondary Schools (NASH), National Association of Primary Schools (NAPH), and education officers. It will include the whole structure of the education value chain including parents and the industry, the higher and tertiary education sector to say what do you make of the product that we are providing you,” he said.
“We want to establish if there are any areas that need to be modified so we are going to be engaging farmers, the Zimbabwe Coalition of Education among other stakeholders.”
Deputy Minister Moyo said he was aware that parents have raised issues over the implementation of some parts of the curriculum including CALA.
He said Government wants the curriculum to respond to modern day world economic trends.
“So, we want them to speak to the issues of the education curriculum. We want to smoothen it up so that it responds to the needs of the country. There is a lot of transformation in the world in industry and economy and so many changes that are brought by e-learning,” he said.
“We want our system to be adaptive as we are moving from manual to digital learning. This means that our approach has to change a bit. For example, sewing started with the use of needles to hand-held sewing machines but now it is automated. So our system has to be automated to meet today’s needs so that our children are not left behind.”
The Deputy Minister said it will be unproductive for the ministry to produce learners who manually mix concrete yet they are likely to work in automated concrete mixing industries.
He said there is however a need for private players to partner the education sector in capacitating schools with modern equipment.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) president Mr Richard Gundane said the curriculum review is an important exercise towards an inclusive education system.
He said although he was aware that the ministry is in the process of conducting the review exercise, they have not been engaged so far.
“I know we might be in the first stages of the curriculum review. I cannot comment on what the ministry has done so far but in my experience, I know that curriculum review is important in terms of aligning the education curriculum with the values of the country. It is important to align the education curriculum with the values of the higher and tertiary education sector which is now focusing on Education 5.0 which is focusing on research, business entrepreneurship and innovation. So this culture of innovation and business entrepreneurship has to be learnt at an early age,” he said.
Mr Gundane said the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development makes an emphasis towards heritage-based studies, hence this also needs to be taught at lower levels and the primary and secondary education pupils need to be taught that at an early age.
He said learners need to be taught about the importance of indigenous languages which are necessary in nationhood.
Mr Gundane said the new curriculum has been dogged with funding challenges hence in its review it was crucial to assess how resources have constrained its implementation.
“When we review it, we should ask ourselves if we do have enough teachers as they are an important component of its implementation. What are the budget implications to the delivery of education?
“We sometimes hear that Government has recruited 5 000 teachers but budgetary issues constrain their deployment. Are teachers adequately resourced or capacitated to deliver on the new curriculum? Those are some of the issues that we need to look at,” said Mr Gundane.
He said there is also a need to evaluate the impact of e-learning considering that data, e-learning gadgets have not been accessible for some of the learners widening the rural/urban gap and the one between the poor and rich. — @nqotshili