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Education as top priority in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe’s education system has been regarded as one of the best in Africa but recently it has been falling behind the times. The global trends in the use of ICTs in education have left gaps in our education system and calls for the review of the education curriculum is currently underway.

Speaking at a no holds barred function hosted by DefZee at the US Embassy Public Affairs Section members of the public had an opportunity to direct questions to the Minister of Education Arts, Sport and Culture, Senator David Coltart. During the session the Minister revealed that Zimbabwe’s education curriculum was last comprehensively reviewed as far back as in 1986. Therefore government has embarked on a curriculum review process to try and transform the system and embrace the use of ICTs in schools. Just like the constitution process the education review process was started through consultations with teachers, parents, children and partners in the education sector in Zimbabwe. The process will be finished by the end of the year. Some of the key areas where there are gaps in the education system include the teaching of civic education, tolerance and the use of non-violence in resolving conflicts.

Commenting on how government is going to help children who are not academically gifted the Minster referred back the findings of the Nziramasanga Commission of 1999. In the report findings it is stated that the 100% academic orientation was not beneficial to the nation and part of the key recommendations was to balance our education curriculum between academic and vocational orientation. Unfortunately these recommendations have not been implemented up to now, so government is trying to promote entrepreneurship through the introduction of vocational education in the new curriculum.

The Minister said he will be presenting a five year plan to Cabinet and he hopes by the year 2015 the Ministry will have implemented a comprehensive change of curriculum for both primary and secondary schools.

Responding to a question on the introduction of the early childhood development progamme in schools the Minister said the theoretical policy behind pre-school education is to cater for children who come from poor backgrounds. Thus government had to come up with an early childhood education progamme. Still on that same matter the Ministry of Education is lobbying for more resources and the introduction of rural allowances in order to place more qualified staff in rural schools. The Minister also suggested that schools should not be used as places for partisan politics and as a minister he is going ensure a safe working environment for all teachers in Zimbabwe.

In an effort to promote arts and combating piracy in Zimbabwe the Minister said the National Arts Council should come up with an electronic inventory for all artists in Zimbabwe and develop marketing strategies for the artists in order to compact piracy. Artists should also be trained in how to market themselves. The Ministry has made tremendous efforts in trying to promote local culture through the teaching of mother tongue languages and recently the Tonga language has been introduced in primary schools and is now being examined at Grade Seven level as well as to secondary level.

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