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    Sunday, 15 April 2018

    The shortcomings of the ‘new’ curriculum




    BY BISHI CHIKOMO

    In this article I, as a classroom practitioner at secondary school for twenty eight years running, shall endeavor to scrutinize the 'New' curriculum in the schools and highlight its shortcomings, frailties, flaws, defects, imperfections or should I say weaknesses.
    I shall start by giving a, scholarly definition of what a curriculum is and what it entails then look at the aims of the so called 'New' curriculum. You know surely for those in the teaching profession, each time a new member of staff arrives at a station the veteran staff always looks closely at the new staff to try and detect any unbecoming behavior before making a passionate reprimand forthwith.
    So I shall do that to this 'New kid on the Block,' the 'New' curriculum, passionately and painstakingly too.
    Curriculum is defined as a statement of intended structured teaching materials and learning processes. And principally the above materials or content and learning processes or strategies must make clear the following.
    a.       The aims of the strategies
    b.      The CONTENT to be used and this is where the Ministry of Education is found wanting most because there are no relevant and suitable textbooks in the bookshops and we have moved a long way with the 'New' curriculum, School Heads spend a lot of money and time running around the bookshops to no avail thereby making a wild chase.
    In some very rare cases where the books are available the cash might not be there in the banks.
    In Heritage Studies, for example, the government must have committed itself to producing and providing nearly every teacher with the original copy of the National Constitution. As it stands now, that document is in scarcity. At our school for example out of a staff compliment of thirteen, I am the only one with a document of the National Constitution and how freely and oftenly shall I be able to give it to someone else to use to teach or to just study it per se?
    That document might not need any foreign currency or material to produce. So what lacks most is the will to make the document available to all schools at least.
    When the teachers teach this subject without the document or other materials they end up talking about what they hear and that is done without confidence. The teachers end up talking about what they hear like rumor mongers to the learners thereby losing self-esteem and personal confidence, in self and the subject in total.
    Teachers are not fully capacitated to teach the new subjects in the 'New' curriculum. There was a great need for some long enough training which should have been thorough enough to equip them with the relevant attitude and skills that give confidence and hope. In general the concepts in the 'New' curriculum are new and need some careful handling and dissemination with fervency.
    What I feel could have helped was for government to utilise loan facilities available to writers and publishers of materials for the 'New' curriculum.
    The importance given to Agriculture must have been extended to Education.
    The economy generally is in bad shape for the parents to meet the demands of the 'New' curriculum for each subject at secondary school.
    The tasks for the learners at Form three come late and some tasks require resources like laboratory equipment that may not be available. In the tasks for History last year, learners were supposed to interview traditional leaders who might either be suspicious, or unsupportive or might need some small token of appreciation in return.
    The learner is generally encumbered by the research to satisfy the requirements of the tasks. Furthermore, the timetable is clogged to the extent that there is no breathing space for the learners.
    Some schools might be doing computer studies but you might find that there is no WI-FI or learners are precluded from bringing a cellphone to school thereby preventing free research.
    I also feel that there was need for an all stakeholders' conference of some sort at school level aimed at educating and equipping parents and learners with proper attitudes gear acceptable and consume rate with the new system.
    If these basic requirements are withheld then this 'New' curriculum is just like any other suitor who promises a lass some glory and soon after betrothal abuses and maims her.
    So generally the learners, the teachers and the parents are being abused and there is no one to yell at.
    The general desire for the affected is that government must make resources and facilities available for the sustenance and survival of this 'New' curriculum or it will slide into oblivion.
    Besides this tragedy the 'New' curriculum has some numerous positive aims among which are:
    a.       To promote and cherish the Zimbabwean identity among learners and above all else patriotism.
    b.      For learners to know their history.
    c.       For learners to learn about the toils and travails of their parents, and above all, the living and the dead who liberated this country.
    d.      To teach manners because the young generation has generally behaved like a ship that has lost bearing.
    e.       To teach learners to tolerate each other objectively.
    f.       To teach learners respect of life, self and others.
    g.      To teach learners to be humane.
    h.      It teaches learners to be optimistic and open minded in all issues.
    i.        It teaches self-sustenance and fosters a lifelong commitment to work.
    j.        It prepares learners for hardships here with us today.
    k.      It teaches learners to manage conflict.
    Above all, it enables a closer link and consultative communication between teachers and their committed learners.
    I also feel that it could have been wiser if Heritage Studies was taught in the local language taking it from the late Hero Nelson Mandela that, and I quote 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands that will go to his head, if you talk to the same person in his own language, that same message will go to his heart.education news

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