The curriculum debacle

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TO understand and decipher curriculum issues, there are three fundamentals to examine.
The first is the curriculum’s ideological axis. This ideological axis derives from the national vision, the political, economic and socio-cultural definition of a nation and the goals and purposes that derive from it; the ideological identity of a nation; who they are, what they are, what they want to achieve and what they want to mature to be.
Ours is the vision of a society that has its foundation in a heroic liberation struggle, a nation which came into being because thousands willingly sacrificed their lives for the sake of justice and equality under sovereign rule, for all Zimbabweans.
This vision engenders the attitudes, values and feelings that underpin the nation’s curriculum.
Thus the ideological axis is the most important aspect of any curriculum because it is what determines the purpose of the curriculum, its usefulness and relevance or irrelevance.
As we have said before in this very paper, there is no education that is ideologically neutral; no curriculum is ideologically neutral.
The ideological axis is also the determinant of the other two axis, the scientific axis and the pedagogic axis.
The scientific axis defines the body of knowledge that is selected to be in the curriculum.
The ideological axis tells us for instance that we cannot include Ian Smith or Cecil John Rhodes among the heroes of Zimbabwe, but among its villains.
Our children need to know about the struggles and triumphs of the African people not the wars of European imperialism fought to apportion the wealth of the world to themselves.
The third axis is the pedagogic axis; how do we teach our children?
What teaching and learning strategies are the vehicles of the curriculum?
The Rhodesian ideology was that Africans were hewers of wood and carriers of water, so it was imperative that teaching methodology denied Africans analytical skills; skills of critical thinking and logic, instead insisting on memorising and amassing meaningless facts, obscurantism and minimising understanding of reality.
Our ideological axis on the other hand requires that our children be critical, creative and original thinkers not parrots and passive photocopies of the whiteman’s worldview.
Our children should be masters of both theory and practice, creators and masters of production so they can manage the nation’s resources independently, hence education with production.
So when people call for the suspension or withdrawal of the new National Schools Curriculum, it is critical to understand their ideological axis; what are they protecting, what attitudes, values and feelings determine their trajectory?
When certain circles hailed the Nziramasanga Commission Report and showered it with accolades, no-one stopped to ask why in the over 600-page document there isn’t a single mention of the liberation struggle.
Can it be that a nation liberated by such heroism can afford to ignore such a tremendous sacrifice by so many.
Why did no-one stand up and say but this is Rhodesia; this is selling out?
It did not happen, why?
It is because in such quarters, Rhodesia’s ideology still rules the roost, it is still the norm. That is why it sits so comfortably in their hearts and minds; still defending the Rhodesia in them, defending it to the hilt.
It is the ideological axis of the New Curriculum that presents problems in certain quarters; quarters that tend to raise their voices above everyone else’s.
Because the New Curriculum departs from the Nziramasanga Report and gives the liberation struggle its rightful place in the hearts and minds of our children, those who are not on the side of Zimbabwe cannot be at peace.
They are looking for all kinds of excuses to get rid of the new curriculum.
They tried to fight the new curriculum by targeting the National Schools Pledge, using the religious card and claiming it was anti-Christ, but it did not work because the spirit of Zimbabwe would not divorce itself from the struggle that brought it into being.
But now other cards have been brought into play; ‘It was done hurriedly’ they claim; teachers have no skills to teach it; it has many inaccuracies; it burdens teachers who are already overloaded and the song goes on.
The pertinent question is: Do you appreciate the need for the New Curriculum?
Do you appreciate what a breakthrough it is from the curriculum we have harboured since 1989 when the first curriculum after independence came to an abrupt end through sabotage?
If you realise this and accept the New Curriculum, you would not reject it.
If you meet problems, you would attend to them so that what you want, what you believe is correct, moves forward.
You would say: Let us have in-service courses so that we can understand it better, implement it best; let us correct this and that other inaccuracy but it is good to teach about our heritage, please include this and that. When you want something, you will seek to correct it, not throw it away.
Curriculum development is a process, it requires time to put everything in place, to fine-tune it until we can work with it satisfactorily.
The most important thing is that parents and teachers should understand the New Curriculum. What is the soul of this curriculum? Once that is clarified to them, we have no problems.
Whenever something is for the good of Zimbabwe, it is fought ruthlessly.
The first curriculum after independence, which ran from 1980-1989, was fought ruthlessly until it was thrown out.
Churches sent delegates to the Curriculum Development Unit to protest the introduction of political economy.
They used the religious card but in fact what they were frightened of was that capitalism was under threat.
They feared that if every young Zimbabwean understood and appreciated socialism, it would be the death knell for capitalism.
Subsequently, political economy was discarded for nefarious reasons; this day capitalism is still riding high with all its attendant ills of millions of youths who cannot look after themselves or the nation, waiting for the day someone will open a factory or they trek to where factories are, anywhere in the world?
Is this the destiny of Zimbabwe?
Is this the Zimbabwean dream for which so many gladly laid down their lives?
Zimbabweans need to be vigilant; when too many voices object to our programmes especially via the Churches, trouble is brewing.
Since the curriculum debacle of 1989, we have taught a Eurocentric curriculum.
Why have we not heard voices calling for the suspension of this colonial curriculum?
Over the years, there have been so many additions to the curriculum, ‘Girl what, Sex Education, Child what,’ and many others.
Why has no-one complained that the curriculum is being overloaded?
We have to understand who we are and what we want for ourselves as Zimbabweans, for future generations.
What is the purpose of education in our land?
We have to sing our own song, not the song of our enemies.

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