Education must inculcate Zimbabwean values

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THE revelations by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora that the educational curriculum would be overhauled to suit the Zimbabwean story has been met with mixed feelings with some people accusing the Minister of eroding the gains that were made under his predecessor David Coltart.
A local newspaper carried a letter which described Coltart as having brought order to the education system through a number of initiatives which include convincing the Western nations through UNICEF to bring textbooks and exercise books for both primary and secondary schools throughout the country.
The writer describes what Coltart did as a legacy for having brought normality to the education sector.
However, educationist Dr Ireen Mahamba believes that such is the tragedy of Zimbabwe’s education system which has produced people who are bent on praising what the Rhodesians did.
In an interview, Dr Mahamba a war veteran who worked in the Curriculum Development Unit in the 1980s said the curriculum in Zimbabwe needs an overhaul because it has produced people who are not patriotic and conscious about what describes them as Zimbabweans through distorted elements which give preference to the European imperialists.
“From the elementary stage particularly in most but not all books, the white people are portrayed as the well-to-do, nothing is said and told of the Zimbabwean people and their way of life.
“In their minds the children visualise of becoming white and prosperous and have little desire of being associated with the Zimbabwean lifestyle and association to their grandparents in the rural areas,” said Mahamba.
She said it was time for the country to change its curriculum in order to accommodate the country’s liberation struggle and replace European authors like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare with locals like Charles Mungoshi and Alexander Kanengoni among others.
Dr Mahamba said the reason why the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) was willing to distribute textbooks for free is because the content perpetuates their values.
In 2012, Zimbabwe’s education system received a huge donation from the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), which also allocated US$38 million to the second phase of the Education Transition Fund (ETF).
The then Education Minister David Coltart said the fund, which was managed by UNICEF helped stabilise the country’s crumbling school system and this additional support would help accelerate the revitalisation of the education sector by contributing to improving schools systems and governance, enhancing teaching and learning, and providing learning opportunities for the large number of out-of-school children.
Dr Mahamba said there is need to seriously fund the education sector because currently the content of what the children are exposed to is biased to the British ideologies.
“Most books that were distributed during the Coltart tenure were printed by Longman Zimbabwe which is owned by the British,’ she said.
“It boggles my mind why such publishing houses were given the job to write for Zimbabwean children yet they already have their interests vested and clear for all to see.
“The liberation struggle has been distorted and in some of the English books which get some comprehension passages of the struggle from books by authors like Shimmer Chinodya’s ‘Harvest of Thorns’.
Dr Mahamba said it was high time Government avails funds to revamp the education sector and inculcate its own cultural ideologies and values of the liberation struggle.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora maintains that regardless of the threats to the erosion of the country’s identity, his ministry was determined to inculcate Zimbabwean values to future generations.
He said although the Nziramasanga Commission was being recommended, reviewing it was inevitable because there was need to include the Land Reform Programme which benefitted more than 400 000 black households in the country.
Dokora said it was against this background that agriculture was now a compulsory subject to all Grade Seven students including those that will be sitting for their exams this year.
“The students that will sit this year will be writing agriculture as a compulsory subject because of the importance of the land which was the cause of the liberation struggle,” said Dokora.
Dokora said while Religious and Moral Education in primary school was important, it emphasised on the genealogy and relations of those in the Bible.
However, he said there is need for the education curriculum to incorporate Zimbabwean culture.
Our norms, ubuntu/unhu, he said, must not be ignored.

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