THERE is no child who is not endowed with sufficient intellectual capacities to manage the basics of life — which is what the first seven years of schooling are about. ccca
To boot, this has been increased from seven to nine years, including ECD A and B and yet it is purported that 58 percent of the children fail Grade Seven.
What should be done about this 58 percent?
This is tantamount to a conspiracy on the Zimbabwean child.
If a child can manage to relate normally in life in the first 11-12-13 years of life, why should he/she fail to pass Grade Seven.
It is totally unconscionable!
What is it that is needed for any child to successfully ensconce in any area of teaching and learning?
The child should have the particular intelligence which governs the specific area of teaching and learning.
Each child is endowed with the requisite intelligence to ensconce in any teaching and learning area.
Each child is endowed with logico-mathematical intelligence so he/she can learn material related to numeracy and logic, such as cascience, mathematics, law and related disciplines.
This hardware is inborn, so it is not possible for any child to fail in these areas at such a basic level.
The problem is thus not with the child.
The child is equipped to master the specific area; the problem is with the curriculum, the teaching and learning methods which make it impossible for the child to ensconce correctly.
No intelligent being can ensconce when the teaching and learning material is not intelligent, when the teaching and learning methods are unintelligent — the children simply switch off.
We fail the children mathematically and yet they can design fantastic wire toys. How much more logico-mathematical intelligence is involved in that than in the ridiculous mathematics we force on our children.
Children cannot make sense of what does not make sense.
We are simply failing them!
All these youngsters we fail go on to make huge successes of themselves in some instances; they go on to manifest greater intelligence than we claim they don’t have by failing them.
Those who sculpt manifest more intelligence than those who draw with a compass.
We dare to stand before the whole nation, the whole world and claim we have children who actually fail languages at the very elementary level of junior school!
How is that possible?
How is it possible for anyone to fail a language which is a mother tongue?
How does anybody fail a language he/she has been taught for seven years — in fact, for nine years — because our ECDs are not ECDs at all. Mostly children are ensconced as junior school learners, at this tender level of intellectual development.
To fail in the manner that is alleged is a feat even a subnormal child might find hard to achieve.
Our ‘A’-Level graduates, or even First degree holders, go abroad to study in non-English speaking countries, and they study in foreign languages, be it German or Russian, for six months. In that period, they master the language sufficiently to use it as a medium of study, to study advanced disciplines such as engineering and medicine, among other disciplines, in a language they have studied for only six months!
If in six months one can master a language, not only to converse in it but sufficiently to use it as a medium of instruction, why should a Zimbabwe child fail a language exam after studying the language for seven years.
How is that possible!
So why do our children fail after seven to nine years of learning the English language?
How obscurantist is our curriculum, teaching and learning methods to claim that a child can be taught a language for nine months a year for seven to nine years and still fail the language.
Nothing can be more confounding!
So what is it that the children are failing, be it in their mother language or in English?
If you go to any country in the world, the madmen or women you meet in the street speak their mother language perfectly — be it English, French or Spanish — the madmen and women in our own country speak perfect Shona or Ndebele and so on.
So, at what level do our children, who are perfectly sane and have been schooled in their mother language for at least seven years and have spoken it for the rest of their 11-12-13 years — at what level do they fail it?
That is audacious.
It is quite some ingenious engineering by our school system to achieve such a feat.
Each child is endowed with linguistic intelligence, that is the inborn hardware which enables them to learn language; which enables each human being to learn language; only children with birth defects which compromise the functioning of this inborn capacity fail to learn language.
Thus, children successfully learn language long before schooling — this capacity is inborn. They get along very well with languages, until they go to school, then they fail — we fail them.
When they go to school the problem starts. they no longer know what’s going on. Nothing makes sense anymore. Their development trajectory is interrupted and distorted and they disensconce so that they can be at peace. How we excel in this tragic endeavor qualifies for research at diploma or degree level.
Chii chinofoirika paGrade Seven?
It is too basic for anyone to fail. No one can fail anything so basic unless he/she is abnormal; so it is not the children, it is the curriculum that is alienating and disensconcing.
The Zimbabwe child is normal; he/she cannot fail at anything so simple. At five or six years, many children can cook, bake, feed chickens and water them; some can even wash their own clothes, make their beds, herd animals, fish as well as do so much that is socially meaningful, it is a sign of how very intelligent they are.
Who and what can fail them when they have already acquitted themselves so well!
I have never met an unintelligent child, hakuna zvakadaro!
Some will argue that it is the conventions of the language that is failing our children.
But that is a lie; it is the duty of the teachers to teach our children the conventions.
At birth, each child is endowed with intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence which is the vehicle for learning and understanding the self, in social relationships, in the family, the community, the society and, of course, the world.
This is how children learn to navigate their lives as social beings.
They are born with social intelligence thus, and they are capable of becoming rational members of society.
So, for 11-12-13 years, they are socially intelligent members of society, and they grow as normal members of society. At school, they are taught about family and community, and society; its structures, how they function and their roles in it and, at the end of seven to nine years, they are told they have failed Grade Seven Social Studies — all that living in society and all that learning about it for years, at the end they are told you have failed!
How is that possible!
For so many months a year, for seven to nine years, they learn Social Studies as a subject and they live in this society, what is it which befuddles their minds so much that they fail!
It is the befuddling curriculum and its befuddling methodologies which fail, not the children.
Children dance from a very early age; they can run, jump and play all kinds of games that challenge their bodies, and it all seems natural, yes it is, but it is not automatic, there is an intelligence, bodily kinesthetic intelligence which enables, so when they respond to music by dancing, when they go ballet dancing, that mind and body co-ordination is a manifestation of the intelligence in this domain.
This, the children do for so long on their own, in their families and communities before school accosts them.
And when they do this outside and before school, it is painless, it is full of joy, it is spontaneous and satisfying until someone draws a syllabus and disrupts the flow, and then pronounces they have failed!
Outside school, no-one fails; but when school begins, those buds that are beautifully unfolding are disrupted and then disqualified by some unknown logic which is strange to them, and the children switch off as a defensive mechanism.
So each teaching and learning area has an intelligence which governs it; for music, we have musical intelligence, for religion we have existential intelligence while for understanding nature and science, we have naturalistic intelligence.
Each human is thus capacitated to live intelligently on this planet, though the degree of development for each intelligence varies in individuals.
That is why some children excel too easily while others take a little longer in certain domains, but there is none who hasn’t all the intelligences save for the brain-damaged.
So if all children are born with all the intelligences necessary to live intelligent lives on Planet Earth, it is fallacious to claim that children fail at the most basic level — they have everything it takes to live well beyond the very basic level.
How can anyone have the audacity to say they fail at the most primary level!
It is not realistic!
How come then that after we have failed them at Grade Seven they go on to live far more meaningful lives after we have pronounced them incapable.
We do the children of Zimbabwe the gravest of injustice when we condemn almost 60 percent of them as incompetent at the most primary level.
It is unconscionable, it is tantamount to a conspiracy on them.
Other nations are busy exploring outer space and we are still preoccupied with proving that our 12-year-olds cannot master primary school level material.
Are we serious about our future and building our nation?