The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has criticised the government’s curriculum review process as a sham, a betrayal and a fait accompli that lacks proper consultation and input from key stakeholders.
In a statement issued after attending a stakeholders engagement meeting at Ambassador Hotel in Harare, PTUZ president Dr Takavafira Zhou said the current curriculum being used in schools is outdated and unfit for the purpose of the 21st century and needs urgent review.
However, he said the government has ignored the union’s pleas for curriculum review for several years and has now rushed to conduct a superficial and biased consultation process that does not address the genuine concerns of teachers, parents and pupils.
He said the questionnaire used for group interviews restricts participants’ inputs and orients them to answers that do not add value to objective curriculum review. He also said the government has not provided adequate resources, training and motivation for teachers to implement a new curriculum that would foster skills revolution and sustainable development in the country.
He said: “The curriculum review process is a sham, greatest betrayal of reviewing curriculum, hap-hazardous meddling and muddling process. It is a fait accompli process rapidly done to legitimize results drafted in offices at head office.”
Dr Zhou outlined some of the union’s talking points and recommendations for a successful curriculum review, which include:
- A paradigm shift from academic pursuit to practical experience and talent identification and nurturing from a young age.
- Provision of adequate teaching and learning materials, infrastructural development, adequate teachers, and equalisation funds for poor schools.
- Training, recruitment, and motivation of teachers for innovation, dynamism and skills revolution. He said teachers must be paid a living wage and be supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.
- Appropriate blending of theory and practical experience from a young age. He said the current overburdened life experience (CALA) is inappropriate and burdensome and defies spiral learning that should inform every curriculum.
- Concentration on science and technology, information and communication technology (ICT), thrust on manufacturing, mining and agriculture. He said financial, technical, vocational and creative qualifications must be offered in secondary schools.
- Inclusive and equitable quality education that promotes better citizen education punctuated by lifelong learning opportunities for all and responsibility.
- Integration of curriculum into Agenda 2030 with clear benchmarks towards an educational skills revolution by 2030.
- Reduction of the number of CALAs to reasonable levels that do not promote cheating, forgery or plagiarism.
- Prioritisation of some learning areas as compulsory without matching provision of enabling resources. He cited Heritage Studies as an example of a poorly resourced and shallow hybrid subject that was made compulsory ahead of History.
- Production of textbooks by teachers as a pre-condition of successful curriculum review.
Dr Zhou called on teachers to remain united and resolute in their demand for a living wage and decent working conditions. He warned that accepting the government’s offer would be tantamount to selling their souls and betraying their profession.