Background

On Friday 25 September 2016 ,the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education , announced that they are going to release a new education curriculum draft which is meant to enforce major changes in the education system. The education draft was presented to Cabinet and was approved on September 22. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora said that the new education syllabus is meant to modernise the education system to be in line with modern technologies and an assessment of the schools’ infrastructure is going to be conducted to see if they are ready for the new system. “My ministry will proceed to produce subject syllabi, restructuring of Grade Seven General Paper to include Agriculture and development of specimen papers for Grade Seven and Ordinary Level.

The Minister also said that the new Curriculum framework will prepare graduates of the education system to have the following skills: critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, leadership skills, good communication skills, team building and technological skills. The Framework outlines the following learning areas for the three learning levels:

Subjects such as Agriculture, languages, Information Communication Technology, Science, Maths, Science, Statistics and Physics are going to be introduced at an earlier stage in schools since some stakeholders suggested that subjects like Maths, Science and Technology should be taught from as early as Early Child Development.

Introduction

Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora in a presentation entitled “Ground Zero: Getting Traction," launched the implementation of the new curriculum in Kadoma on Saturday 21 January 2017. The new curriculum came into effect in January 2017. [1]

Subjects

Infant School

  • Indigenous Language as medium of instruction
  • Visual and Performing Arts (Expressive Arts)
  • Physical Education
  • Mass Displays
  • Mathematics and Science
  • Social Studies (Family and Heritage Studies)

Junior School

  • Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies
  • Science and Technology
  • Agriculture
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Family, Religion and Moral Education
  • Physical Education, Sport and Mass Display

Ordinary Level

The number of compulsory subjects was set at 7 and the standard number of subjects has been set at 10. The new curriculum also sets a maximum of 2 more subjects for those who wish to pursue a lot of subjects. Meaning that the maximum number of subjects is 12.[1]

Compulsory Subjects

After these 7 compulsory languages, students will be allowed to choose three more elective subjects. Those students who wish to increase the number of subjects will be allowed to add an additional 2 subjects, meaning they will be choosing 5 subjects.

Elective Subjects

  • Computer Science
  • Geography
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Additional Mathematics
  • Pure Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • History
  • Sociology
  • Economic History
  • Family and Religious Studies.


  • Business and Enterprise Skills
  • Commerce
  • Commercial Studies
  • Economics
  • Principles of Accounts
  • Building Technology and Design Forms,
  • Design and Technology
  • Food Technology
  • Metal Technology and Design
  • Home Management and Design
  • Technical Graphics and Design
  • Textile Technology and Design
  • Wood Technology and Design
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Musical and theatre [1]

The new curriculum also advocates for the introduction of industrial attachment for students after their Ordinary Level studies.[2]

Preparation and implementation

First and second phases

The first two phases of the implementation of the new curriculum began in 2017 with training in syllabus interpretation for teachers and supervisors taking the following classes in 2018:

  • ECD ‘B’,
  • Grade Two
  • Grade Four
  • Form Two
  • Form Four
  • Form Six[2]

Phase Three

This will be enacted in 2018, with the further implementation of the syllabuses for the classes mentioned in first and second phases and interpretation of the syllabuses to teachers.[2]


Phase Four

This will take place in 2019 and will focus on implementation and syllabus interpretation for teachers taking Grade Six and extending into 2020 for Form Four.[2]

Phase Five

This will take place in 2021 and will start with the implementation of the new curriculum for Grade Six and Form Four. There will also be training in syllabus interpretation for supervisors and teachers taking Grade Seven classes in 2021

Phase Six

This is scheduled for 2021 and involves the implementation of the first Junior School Examinations at Grade Seven.

Phase Seven

This is scheduled for 2022 will see the full scale implementation of the new curriculum.

The curriculum will follow a seven-year continuous assessment and monitoring cycle to analyse its strengths and weaknesses.

Criticism

Minister Lazarus Dokora received a lot of criticism for the manner in which he implemented the New Curriculum. Reasons for the criticism include but are not limited to:

  • Inadequate consultation
  • Limited time to implement the new curriculum
  • New Curriculum requires resources which some schools cannot afford
  • Teacher and Headmasters claimed that they were yet to see the final syllabuses yet the new curriculum was in progress.
  • Teachers and Headmasters also claimed that they were yet to receive new textbooks and learning material for the new curriculum

Former Minister of Educator Senator David Coltart said:

I’m deeply concerned about what my successor is doing to education [3]



The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) released a statement through president, Takavafira Zhou saying:

In a rushed and unrealistic move, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry has announced that a new curriculum must be implemented with effect from next Tuesday

This move is not only intransigent and callous, but also a monumental injustice, impermeable to reason and facts. Fundamentally, the syllabi are not readily available in schools. The teaching material or textbooks for the new curricula are not readily available, yet there are completely new subjects that have been introduced such as Heritage Studies and Economic History. Above all, teachers, as key implementers of the new curriculum, have not received the adequate in-service training necessary for the immediate implementation [4]

Yet surprisingly, ministry officials are calling for wholesale implementation at primary and secondary schools. It is clear that the implementation of the new curriculum is haphazardly rushed and neither rural nor urban schools are prepared for a smooth take-off of the new curricula. The new curriculum has great emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT), yet the ministry has not taken any contingent measures to close the ICT gulf between urban and rural schools or even training of teachers so that they are not deskilled by the new curriculum. PTUZ urges education officials to mellow down to a more constructive approach in which there is engagement with teachers, in-service training, production of teaching material and other contingent measures before implementation of any reforms in the education sector. It is tantamount to cold and calculated educational vandalism and is a wrong prescription for the educational challenges in Zimbabwe. Sadly, Dokora and his lieutenants will arbitrarily muddle and meddle through, as has become fashionable in their style of management. [4]

PTUZ Matabeleland South chairperson, Urgent Moyo said:

In the long run, rural schools will suffer most given the disparity in ICT between rural and urban schools and the inclination of the new curricula to ICTs. It remains a mystery how education officials plan to close such a gulf,” he said. “The ministry should have conducted a survey on the readiness of rural schools to commence this new curriculum on current resources. Most rural schools are struggling to computerise. [4]



Zimbabwe Christian Alliance leader, Useni Sibanda said:

Dokora rushed to implement the curriculum, this needs to be opposed by citizens. These are our children, we need to have a thorough input into what will be taught.[3]

Fortunate Dube, a parent who spoke to NewsDay said:

The worst of them all since 1980. Senseless. No textbooks for that new curriculum, no preparation for teachers for that new curriculum. How are they going to implement it effectively? His head needs to be examined immediately otherwise he will drag down the whole education system with him. It’s time to stop him before he becomes a serious fool[3]




References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ministry sets maximum subjects at O-level Sunday News, Retrieved:2 April 2017, Published: 22 January 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Errant colleges face closure, The Financial Gazette, Retrieved:2 April 2017, Published: 30 March 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dokora curriculum review disastrous: Coltart News Day,Retrieved:2 April 2017, Published: 9 January 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Teachers blast Dokora over ‘rushed curriculum’ News Day,Retrieved:2 April 2017, Published: 7 January 2017