Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Sunday News Reporter
THE new education curriculum will be rolled out when schools open for the first term on Tuesday this week amid mixed sentiments from stakeholders in the education sector.
Rolling out of the new curriculum follows successful piloting in more than 100 primary and secondary schools between May and September last year. Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu, believes all is now set for the implementation of the new curriculum.
Mr Ndlovu conceded that there may be some gaps that may arise as the new curriculum is being implemented but pointed out that the gaps will be dealt with along the way.
“The piloting was done successfully, reading material is now there and I understand syllabi accompanying the new curriculum have been distributed to provinces, districts, clusters and schools. What is left is expansion of training educators, which is an ongoing process” he said.
“We are definitely prepared. To suggest that we should be 100 percent prepared at this stage is a wishful approach. This is just the introduction and other unforeseen grey areas will arise as we implement and can be dealt with along the way,” added Mr Ndlovu.
Primary and Secondary school heads concurred with Mr Ndlovu saying schools were geared to implement the new curriculum.
National Association of Primary School Heads (Naph) Elton Sinyosi said about 99 percent of teachers had been trained on the new curriculum.
“We are very much prepared. About 99 percent of teachers have been trained and scheming for the first term has already started,” he said.
His counterpart from the National Association of Secondary School Heads (Nash), Mr Albert Mucheka said syllabi were now available and schools were geared to start teaching new learning areas that come with the new curriculum.
“Syllabi are now available. They were sent to districts to be distributed to schools and training of teachers has been done. I can safely say we are now ready to roll out on Tuesday.
“The ministry conducted workshops to upgrade teachers, and all that needed to be done has been done so far. We are good to go,” he said.
Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango confirmed that all was now set for the rolling out of the new curriculum.
Dr Utete-Masango dismissed concerns raised over the readiness of schools to start implementing the new education framework.
She however, conceded that preparation may not be 100 percent at this stage but noted that the gaps would be covered as the new curriculum is being implemented.
“All the necessary measures are in place and we are ready to start implementing the curriculum,” she said.
What we should look at is that in all spheres of life you can never achieve 100 percent at a go. We should be able to make do with what we have and if gaps arise as we implement we will innovate on how to cover those gaps until we achieve a 100 percent product.
“Remember we are not exploring new ground but strengthening those areas that were being taught, so teachers should not struggle adapting to the new curriculum,” Added Dr Utete-Masango.
On the continuous assessment issue raised by PTUZ, Dr Utete-Masango said the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) was working on the relevant guidelines.
“Zimsec have the expertise in that and right now they are coming up with guidelines on how the assessment will be carried out and they will moderate. Teachers will be trained on that,” said Dr Utete-Masango.
The new curriculum will be rolled out at targeted levels such as early childhood learning, Grades One and Three, and Forms One, Three and Five pupils. While school heads and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education say they are ready to start implementing the new curriculum, some stakeholders have opined that the implementation was being hurried.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, (PTUZ) president Mr Takavafira Zhou however, has urged the education ministry to postpone the process to 2018. Mr Zhou said not enough groundwork had been done to equip teachers to be able to implement the new curriculum.
“The teachers are in the dark on a number of issues. How then will they implement the new curriculum when they have not been adequately educated on it?”
The PTUZ president predicted chaos ahead of new curriculum roll out, pointing out some grey areas that needed to be attended to first.
“The ministry needs to explain continuous assessment. It is said to cover 12 terms from Form 1 to Form 4 for secondary school. Now there are those students in form 3, where will their marks come from for their six terms of Form 1 and 2? My understanding is that their profile will be short of the required aspects,” quizzed Mr Zhou.
Zimbabwe Schools Development Associations/Committees (ZSDA/C) secretary General Mr Everisto Jongwe said his association was in the dark on the new curriculum despite being a key stakeholder in the education sector.
“It’s difficult to comment when you were not consulted. Our input was not captured, we were not involved in the first place.
Those who were consulted are not privy to the nitty-gritty issues of the education sector,” he said.
The new curriculum is expected to usher in a battery of changes in the learning programme.