Ministers Dokora and Muchena’s worst nightmare


IN an article reproduced by The Herald of October 9, Richard Dowden, the man who chaired the meeting that conceived the formation of the MDC at Chatham House in 1999 and current executive director of the Royal African Society proposes that in the face of the crushing defeat the MDC suffered during the July 31 elections, there was need to change strategy and focus more on education.
“We cannot compete with the Chinese in manufacturing, but one thing that Britain has that Africa needs is education. As African economies grow, education is a good earner not only in the short and long term but would create relationships far into the future.”
Against that ominous background, the Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training comes under the spotlight and occupies the centre stage. Education has become the new battle ground in our fight against neo-colonialism.
But how much defence does the Nziramasanga Report provide the country in this new fight against neo-colonialism that Richard Dowden is spoiling for?
The first term of reference that President Mugabe wanted to know was the relevance, quality and orientation of the inherited (sic colonial) education system in the changing socio-economic environment.
It is clear President Mugabe was already thinking in political terms. He was talking about a revolution that was not being defended by the education system that we had inherited from our former colonisers. He was talking about values and ideals that were not reflected in the education system that we had inherited.
He was envisaging fundamental changes to the structure and content of education.
The Nziramasanga Report consists of 23 chapters or 644 A4 pages and nowhere in the voluminous document is there any mention of the liberation struggle.
One gets the feeling there was a deliberate effort not only to ignore that critical historical process that helped to define the present and the future of this country but to shut it out of the minds of future generations, as if it never happened.
Perhaps the glaring omission had to do with the composition of the Commission.
Of the 12 members that constituted it, not one of them had a known liberation struggle background. It might also be interesting to note that of the 12 commissioners, about half were white.
If a person with a liberation struggle background was there, perhaps she or he would have periodically reminded the Commission that there was once a war that made it possible for the people to determine their future including deciding the sort of education that they wanted for their children as the Commission was doing.
But the important task still remained as the defence of the gains of our independence.
There was a mistaken belief in the past that the task was the function of the armed forces alone.
People like Richard Dowden quickly saw the error and they are manoeuvring to make education their entry point.
People argue that if we had changed our education curriculum during the first decade of our independence, we would have denied people like Professor Feltoe from the University of Zimbabwe to produce lawyers like Tendai Biti who are unable to frame their arguments in the context that tens of thousands of people died to free the country from white occupation.
People like Biti are tragic examples of lawyers produced by the British colonial training system, the Roman Dutch law, a disconnected system producing lawyers whose allegiance lie more with Europe than with Zimbabwe.
And if they do anything at all in Zimbabwe, it would be on behalf of the British.
The Nziramasanga Report treats knowledge as a universal phenomenon without a defined location, without any boundaries but that is not entirely correct.
Knowledge is expressed and consumed in defined situations. Education must seek to produce people with an identity defined by given localities.
Therefore, a Zimbabwean education system must produce Zimbabweans and not people that any country can come and claim before giving them their own identity as is the case at the moment. That is the strategy that Richard Dowden is calling on the British government to employ.
In its present state, the Nziramasanga Report is an ideal tool for Dowden to implement his sinister proposal.
Another problem with the Nziramasanga Report seems to have been the education models and countries the Commission picked out to visit: United States, New Zealand, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, etc.
There is no suggestion there was anything wrong with the selection. It is the absence of ‘eastern’ countries that raises eyebrows because ironically, a year after the Commission presented its report in 2000, President Mugabe started calling for the need to develop a ‘look east’ policy.
If there was a person with a liberation struggle background in the Commission, he might have anticipated that development because the land reform programme had already begun.
It was education without a Zimbabwean frame during the last 30 years that was largely responsible for the creation of what was euphemistically referred to as the ‘lost generation’ — the bulk of whom support the MDC.
If the Nziramasanga Report is not fundamentally improved to give the curriculum a Zimbabwean frame, it will produce the same scholars who can be claimed by any country in the world and make them their own.
And Richard Dowden will rub his hands with glee at Chatham House.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here