Preparing children for the Zimbabwean story

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School children in a classroom - Picture by Kudakwashe Hunda

THE recent uproar and resistance by the Church, parents and guardians over the National School Pledge and the reforms in the education sector could be a manifestation of a regime change agenda that Western sponsors have tried to ingrain in the educational curriculum.
Guns have come out blazing for Dr Lazarus Dokora, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, who has made changes to the curriculum through the inclusion of aspects that promote patriotism and ubuntu/hunhu in the education curriculum.
Zimbabwe Heritage Trust (ZHT) Chief Executive Officer, Cde Pritchard Zhou, notes that the significance of education as a regime change tool and channel for promoting Western interests in Zimbabwe was highlighted by the director of Royal Africa Society (RAS), Richard Dowden, soon after MDC formations were mauled by ZANU PF in the 2013 election.
While lamenting Britain’s loss in 2013 and its waning influence on the diplomatic front, Dowden said: “One thing Britain has, that Africa needs, is education.
“Education is the one window that remains open for the British to exercise influence in Zimbabwe.”
“Dowden’s analysis is that education would not only be a good earner in the short-term, but in the long-term would create relationships far into the future,” said Cde Zhou.
“The fact that Dowden views education as the remaining window for continued destabilisation of the country means we have to take a thorough audit of our educational programmes and take appropriate action.”
Dowden is the man who, in January 1999, was assigned the responsibility by the British government to craft strategies to remove President Robert Mugabe from power.
Speaking to The Patriot, Miriam Mbiriri from Harare said it was shocking that blacks who were made to sing the British anthem and praise songs during the colonial era now question the National School Pledge in an independent Zimbabwe.
“I am shocked that people have chosen to attack the National School Pledge instead of celebrating that we finally have something purely Zimbabwean,” she said.
“We used to sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at assembly and celebrate the coronation day of the queen as recognition of the supremacy of the British monarch.”
Dr Dokora said there is nothing amiss with the National School Pledge.
“Every learner should be proud to identify himself/herself as Zimbabwean irrespective of the diversity of origin and socio-economic status,” he said.
“This can be achieved through learning to appreciate and accept to work together for the common good.
“The process of building consciousness and patriotism is through drawing on ubuntu/hunhu and the inclusion of scientific habits of thought and reflection.”
Dr Dokora said developing national consciousness required that everyone understands and shares Zimbabwe’s history and heritage, hence the foundation prepares learners for participation in events that celebrate national unity.
He said the reciting of the pledge and the call for the repositioning of all clubs in schools to meet with the new framework was not a requirement for just the Scripture Union, but for all activities in schools.
“All organisations must examine the new curriculum framework and ask themselves how they can contribute to the process,” he said.
“Are you Scripture Union, are you Boy Scout?
“Whatever you are (you should ask yourself) how it (your club) can contribute to the process then you define those areas that you think you can contribute to.
“Is it under life skills?
“Is it under family, religion and moral education?
“Is it under sport and physical education, mass displays?
“Are these your areas of competence?”
Dr Dokora said the curriculum framework also provides for an education system that calls for an appreciation of a unique identity as Zimbabweans, at the same time establishing a strong scientific technological bias within the curriculum as part of Government’s skills development strategy.
“The curriculum framework will closely relate to the productive sectors of the economy and by so doing, develop a skilled human-resource base that ensures sustainable development for the nation,” he said.
A former Courtney Selous Primary student wrote about how her experiences at her last assembly have been ingrained in her mind for close to 30 years.
“The last assembly at the end of my Grade Seven year in 1988 remains imprinted upon my memory,” she said.
We went into the school hall as usual and took our positions and after having concluded a hymn, we recited the school’s creed, which went as follows:
“This is our school.
“Let peace abide here.
“Let this room be full of contentment.
“Let love abide here, love of one another, love of mankind and love of life itself.
“Let us remember that as many hands build a house, so many hearts make a school.”
Then we sat down and it was time for the headmistress to give a farewell speech to Grade Seven students.
She explained the history of Courtney Selous Primary School and elaborated on how the school had been built in one of Frederick Courtney Selous’ hunting areas.
“He was born on December 31 1851 and died on January 4 1917.
“He was a British explorer, hunter and conservationist famous for his exploits in Southern Africa,” she said.
“Selous was also a good friend of Theodore Roosevelt and he had been born in London.
“It was his love for natural history that had led him to the resolve to study the ways of wild animals in their native haunts.
“Going to South Africa when he was 19, he travelled from the Cape of Good Hope to Matabeleland, reaching his destination early in 1872 and was granted permission by Lobengula to shoot game anywhere in his dominions.”
The headmistress went on to say: “You are all a bunch of wild animals who have been captured by the great hunter, Frederick Courteney Selous, not into cruel captivity, but in order to nurture you so that you will grow to be well-learned, well-mannered and professional wild animals.
“After seven years of carefully grooming you, Frederick Courteney Selous, will let you go free, into the wild as he would have equipped you to face the world head on, socially, mentally and spiritually.”
And many years down the line, she still remembers the values of Courtney Selous she was taught.
Surely more needs to be done by responsible authorities to tell the Zimbabwean story.
The stories of our heroes and heroines must be told and celebrated beginning in schools.
The National School Pledge may just be the beginning.

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