By Dr Ireen Mahamba
THE philosophy underpinning education with production is that as a people, it is our birthright to be masters of our own destiny.
In education with production (EwP), each subject has practical activities that make it simple for the learners to understand its relevance to their lives, to the community, and to the wider society.
The learners apply mathematical concepts practically as they calculate the quantities of food per child, per term, per year, as they estimate harvest per acreage for particular crops, as they work out the amount of rain required for a certain type of soil to grow certain crops.
They apply the languages to produce plays, songs and poems, to write and publish stories, booklets on various topics such as keeping rabbits, poultry farming, or cookery topics.
They can also write materials on topics the local community requires information such as soap making, or how to prevent bilharzias, depending on what the needs are.
What is apparent here is that applying the concepts practically lends itself very easily to the integration of different subjects.
This not only underlines the interrelatedness of different subject areas, but it also enhances a deeper understanding of the concepts and saves time.
The productive activities grow out of the practical assignments.
For extended periods, the learners are involved in the production of goods and services that can be used by the school, the community and even the greater Zimbabwean society.
Linking with the community is a fundamental principle in education with production, because education must serve society practically and the community is the school’s entry point into the society.
At Chindunduma in Shamva, a ZIMFEP school, metal work classes produced window frames that were used in the construction of the school.
They continued to make some for sale long after the needs of the school were met.
Other successful experiences in ZIMFEP schools include production of benches, wheat, maize and vegetables in excess of the needs of the school, with the surplus being sold to boost the schools’ finances.
These examples demonstrate the extent to which education with production can help schools contribute to their own upkeep and save the government thousands of dollars.
What a boost to the economy if all our schools could become self-reliant through education with production!
In addition to practical and productive activities that are part of the formal classroom programmes, the learners can get together and form production units based on their areas of interest.
It can be a unit on fruit growing, soap making, beekeeping, uniform making, or leather work to repair and make shoes, or publishing.
The production units should not only target the needs of the school, but also those of the community.
The production unit allows in-depth study of a particular area, allows the learners to plan and experiment independently without the direct supervision of the teacher although the teacher is there in the background as an advisor.
As they plan, they budget, they produce, they deal with issues of quality control, they market and they account.
They exercise ownership, engage in production and distribution of the proceeds from their labour and get prepared to take off on their own once they leave school as did graduates from Nkululeko near Kwekwe and Majoda near West Nicholson, who set up model ranches with high breed cattle suited to the local conditions.
The ventures were so successful that it was planned to open leather tanning and meat canning factories at Majoda and an abattoir for Nkululeko.
The experiences of the students at the school need to be augmented by exposure to centres of production such as factories, farms, in order to broaden their understanding and appreciation of production.
Where possible, attachments or apprenticeships can be arranged for the school holidays. Learners can also be availed videos, DVD’s on various types of production and various aspects of production.
At the end of the day, whether these youngsters leave school and start new ventures such as co-operatives, or companies, or they become farmers or go on to tertiary institutions or the university, they are a crop that understands the relationship between ownership and production and therefore appreciate the superior position of being an owner who decides how the wealth is distributed compared to that of an employee who has no power over his produce.
So indigenisation is the natural option for them because they understand it and they have the skills; empowerment is natural for them because they understand first hand the process of production and the distribution of the products of labour, and the difference between being an owner and being a servant in this context.
They will naturally create employment because they desire to run their own enterprises and, with the whole population educated the ‘EwP’ way, these enterprises will tend to be partnerships not master/servant enterprises, because all the parties will know and understand the essence of ownership and what it means for the appropriation of the fruits of labour.
Dr Mahamba is a war veteran and holds a PhD from Havard University. She is currently doing consultancy work.