Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
Zimbabwean primary and secondary schools have recently opened for the 2018 first term, and most of them have registered to their fullest capacities.
Tertiary educational institutions such as polytechnical colleges are also open and are registering students for various courses which range from commercial to technical and mechanical.
Zimbabwe is known worldwide for its large number of educational output, and for its high literacy and numeracy rates.
The country’s curricula lean more heavily towards theoretical than towards practical subjects, a weakness rather than a strength in life in that living is a practical rather than a theoretical process.
Taking the human body as an example, our education should enable recipients to understand how their bodies function, that is to say how their various body organs work interdependently.
It could also most probably help the churches’ passive campaign to reduce drunkenness if people were taught at an early age how alcoholic beverages damage liver cells leading to hepatitis and in some cases to cirrhosis.
In both cases, hepatitis and cirrhosis, the patients may die if early remedial measures are not taken. Some of those measures being giving patients correct diet comprising fruits and green vegetables.
Children receiving such education about the human body would certainly take practical interest in what they eat and drink, and would apply their education practically at their respective homes, a continuous process that could improve the health standard of our communities.
Talking about fruits and green vegetables brings us to education about the soil as it is on the soil that fruit trees and vegetables grow.
A useful educational curriculum should teach about various soils, analysing them according to their various types, their strengths and weaknesses, how they can and should be improved, what can be successfully grown on each type, and what practices and factors are threats to their productivity.
Since Zimbabwe is primarily an agricultural country, and the Government always urges people to produce more and more food, soil knowledge and its usage (agriculture) should be prioritised particularly at primary educational level when children’s minds are in their formative stage.
This is especially important since most of Zimbabwe’s population lives in the rural areas, and depend on the land for their very survival.
Weather conditions and other factors being favourable, urban centres should be fed by rural areas and not the other way round. A correctly educated rural community pursuing stated goals can produce agricultural surpluses throughout the year, all things being equal.
Rural areas could adequately feed Zimbabwe, and in that way reduce the incidence of diseases and, consequently, the cost of national health service because illness occurs much more in a starving than in a well-fed nation.
Zimbabwe’s school curricula should also prioritise geography and some aspects of geology for two reasons, which are:
– That geography, (especially its climatic and meteorological aspects) is very important to an agriculturally based economy such as that of Zimbabwe.
– That geology, particularly the part that analyses rocks and their mineral components, an aspect related to minerology, and is very vital to Zimbabwe in view of the importance of the country’s mining economic sector.
Zimbabwe’s educational institutions owe it to the entire nation to produce a significant number of highly qualified mineralogists yearly. That can happen if the national curricula designers accorded due importance to that economically vital subject.
The importance of mathematics, the English language, and science (physics and chemistry) is obvious, of course, since one promotes numeracy, and the other is a sine qua non (the without which not) to international communication.
It would help Zimbabweans a great deal if they also learned an additional international language such as either French or Portuguese, Chinese, German, Arabic or Hindi.
Francophone Africa is much larger than Anglophone Africa both geographically and demographically. It is a potential market for products as well as services.
The Portuguese world covers a large part of South America, the Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe, and quite close to Zimbabwe, Mozambique to our immediate east, and Angola and Guinea – Bissau on the Atlantic coast of West Africa.
Chinese and Hindi languages are spoken by the world’s two highly populated states, China and India, countries that could be markets for Zimbabwean food products and various types of tourism services.
Germany and Japan are two economic giants very much respected by the world, and so is the Arab world whose oil exports keep the world’s industrial wheels turning. The ability to communicate with these various nations in their own respective languages would enable Zimbabwe to have a firm economic foothold within their borders.
Zimbabwean educational policy generators have repeatedly emphasised the importance of history as a school subject, and the role of the armed liberation struggle in the birth of Zimbabwe is important to remember as it comprised massive human sacrifices.
The struggle’s economic losses cannot be easily quantified, nor can the emotional distress, the misery and anguish experienced by all and sundry. Most of that suffering was and is still indescribable; it had to be seen to be believed.
Most wars are like what we experienced, some are virtually more destructive to both life and property.
However, when any war ends, people need to take in a deep breath and face the future. Life has three categories of time: the past, the present and the future.
Each category has some degrees of importance which are much or little, more or less, and most or least. Various socio – economic cultures attach different degrees of importance to each of these categories of time.
The San and the Pygmies attach most importance to the present, little to the past, and virtually none to the future. The reasons for that cannot be given nor analysed in a seminal article of this magnitude, but suffice it to say those people do not worship their ancestral spirits.
The Bantu, and Zimbabweans are Bantus (Vanhu, Banhu, Antu etc), show most interest in the past, more to the present than to the future.
It is in that cultural context that we should understand our deep interest in our past, and obviously comparatively less in the future by designing realistic economic revival plans. Just as it is our religious tradition to worship our respective ancestral spirits, it is our tradition to revere our past.
However, whatever is our culture we need to accept that because the past cannot be recalled but can only be remembered, and the present is under our immediate control, we should plan for tomorrow (the future). Our educational system should highlight the importance of planning and of avoiding past errors in order to develop our country economically, socially, politically and culturally.
For their part, our educationists must acknowledge that the most important time in anyone’s life is the future, and that that is the actual purpose of every educational programme, to prepare people for the future, and that we must spend most (not much or more but most) of our time preparing for the future.
*Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo – based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email. [email protected]