By Byron Mutingwende
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has reported that learning failed to kick-start Tuesday as teachers and learners were grappling with the challenges of implementing the new curriculum. Introduced by the minister of primary and secondary education, Lazarus Dokora, the new curriculum has a thrust on the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics heritage studies, sports and practical subjects.
As a departure from the old curriculum, the new will be based on a combination of formative and summative assessment of learners’ competence. Educationist Darlington Mbenguzana said that formative assessment requires continuous objective monitoring of teachers who will come up with results based on the student’s behavior and performance on a continual basis. On the other hand, summative assessment will measure performance at the end of a learning programme for grading, placement, selection and informing system performance.
Apart from the challenges associated with the implementation of the new curriculum, most parents were making frantic efforts to raise school fees, with reports of barter trade in certain areas and non-payment in most due to the biting liquidity crunch. A snap survey by ARTUZ revealed that 98% of sampled schools in rural areas were not ready to implement the new curriculum.
“Learners interviewed revealed that thy were unaware of the expectations of the new curriculum. In secondary schools, Form 3 pupils are affected the most. The entry behaviour of learners in Form 3 does not empower them to tackle new learning areas such as computers and pure science subjects,” ARTUZ said in a statement.
They added that teachers in the sampled schools had not schemed because they did not have syllabi for the new curriculum. A teacher at one rural school in Midlands said a workshop on the new format in scheming was on the line-up for Form 1 and 3 teachers.
“There is a lack of preparedness for the teachers to implement the new learning programme. Schools are also under-staffed as new subjects have been introduced but the number of teachers remains unchanged. Integrated science teachers are now being forced to teach physics, biology and chemistry.”
Some teachers had also taken heed to the call of a go-slow by ARTUZ, which is demanding the immediate release of dates for bonus disbursements. A visit to schools in Gokwe showed apparent lack of infrastructure to implement the new blueprint: no electricity for compulsory computer programmes, no laboratories and no textbooks for the content to be taught. The story was the same in the bulk of the rural schools.
“In all this chaos, the government’s response was to deploy overzealous inspectors countrywide. The inspectors could not do much as they realised that there was nothing to inspect. The schools were not ready to teach. After all has been said, the new curriculum not only causes confusion but will fail to change the exit behavior of the learners,” said Obert Masaraure, the ARTUZ President.
The new curriculum was introduced to align the country’s education with current global changes.