Mugabe Orders North Korean-style ‘Command Education’

Now Daily

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Zimbabwean school kids will be forced to learn North Korean-style mass displays and will be indoctrinated in dictator Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF political party ideology under on-going educational reforms that have met with stiff resistance from parents, teachers and students.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesman Dumisani Nkomo, a former teacher and CEO of the Habakkuk Trust comments:

“I would like to add my voice to the growing chorus of Zimbabweans that are opposed to Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora’s education reform or is it “deform” agenda which was ratified by the cabinet on 22 September 2016 and unveiled by the Minister on the 21 st of January 2017 in a policy paper entitled “Ground Zero – Getting Traction”. I would like to argue that the changes to Zimbabwe’s curriculum are not in sync with the best education systems in the world. It is designed to create a new generation of zombies, incapable of independent thought, leadership, reasoning and enterprise contrary to claims that it seeks to achieve the former. Importantly the education reform agenda is not supported by broader reform at macro reform including but not limited to budget priorities which support the new direction and agenda. This article will prove that Minister Dokora’s new thrust is not supported by top end budget support for critical areas such as industry, science, technology, innovation, and I.C T ‘s .Children are literally being pushed nowhere very fast as there is no tangible government commitment to the productive sector .

Structural Discord

According to Dr Dokora the new education curriculum seeks to modernize education by ensuring that graduates of this system have the following skills:

1.Critical thinking

2.Problem solving

3.Leadership

4.Communication

5.Team Building

6.Technological skills

It is therefore strange that the government in the process of promoting the above which are laudable and commendable goes on to introduce changes which have nothing whatsoever with cultivating the any of those attributes. In order to cultivate leadership, critical thinking ,problem solving etc. the same education minister goes on to introduce subjects like Mass Display from infant level right up to O’ Level. Physical education, introduction of vernacular languages as medium of teaching, physical education. Mass display is a concept celebrated in many dictatorships such as North Korea and famously during Adolf Hitler’s Germany where the Hitler youth was formed to brainwash children .Mass Display is an attempt at mass political indoctrination and hypnosis of infants and children. The national pledge, physical education, mass display at infant level smack of militarization of the education sector through the back door. Strengthening of indigenous languages is important on its own but to go to the extent of making them the medium of instruction may disadvantage our children in the long term in a very competitive global environment. It is sufficient for indigenous languages to be compulsory up to a certain level without using them as a medium of teaching.

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At O Level the following subjects are now compulsory:

1.Agriculture

2.Physical education

3.General Science

4.Heritage Studies

5.Indigenous languages

6.Mathematics

7.English

 

The issue of forcing subjects on students will destroy the ability of the education system to identify, develop and nurture the unique competencies and talents of children. Of course I agree that Maths, Science, English and one indigenous language can be compulsory but the high number of compulsory subjects reduces students to zombies and robots . Not every child is meant to go into agriculture, not every child will be a sportsperson and after all the government is not investing enough resources in ensuring that these sectors are developed.

There is no empirical evidence that making Physical Education and Mass Display and Heritage Studies  will promote critical thinking , improve communication  or develop leadership . If anything subjects like literature develop critical faculties more effectively than Heritage Studies which are a subject of contention because of our contested history and multiple national narratives.

 

Economic Hypocrisy

The government’s education curriculum reform is pure deception because it does not mirror the government’s budget, policy priorities and imperatives. Countries which have some of the best education systems in the world have invested heavily in education and the upstream sectors that support education priorities as reflected in the curriculum. Estonia for example invests 4 % of its Gross Domestic Product [G.D.P] into education whilst Qatar is investing its oil profits on education. In Zimbabwe how much of our diamond revenue went into education of the unaccounted 15 billion diamond revenue.

Whilst education received the highest budget vote of U.S800 million in the 2017 budget   other sectors which support educational priorities or pillars such as science, information communication technology, energy etc which drive the productive sector received paltry amounts in the 2017 budget. ICT is compulsory at school but the government only allocated U.S 12 million to this sector. The energy sector supports the end level side of science   and mathematics education but was only allocated U.S 5 million in last year’s budget. Sectors which support science and technology such as aviation received US$ 4.9 million. This is compared to US $22 million allocated to the welfare of war veterans, detainees etc. Official government rhetoric pontificates about encouraging school children to be productive and yet a paltry US$18 million was allocated to Industry and Commerce in the 2017 budget. Self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship is preached about but the ministry of Small to Medium Scale enterprises was allocated just US$6.3 million to achieve this noble goal . The office of the president and cabinet was allocated $176 million, Home Affairs 366 million and defence US$340 million.

 

This is a clear indication that the government’s curriculum development is not underpinned or supported by broad macro pillars such as budgetary support. In the absence of such support there will be inadequate infrastructure and resources to support the new thrust. Forcing people to do Physical education and sports, or expressive arts when there is no budgetary support for such sectors at the end of the education value chain is a sheer waste of time .As long as there is no allocation of resources towards scientific research, innovation and small to medium scale enterprises the whole new educational thrust is an exercise in futility .

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Comparative Analysis in Education Systems

The new education curriculum has no peers in terms of comparing with the best education systems in the world. Finland has the best education system in the world but formal education for children starts at 7 unlike here where children will literally spend all their childhood at school .In Finland children are not stressed with too much homework and teachers spend only four hours a day at school. There is however high investment in the professional development of teachers. According to experts, Finland has gone against the tide of global education which is based on standardization, core subjects and control.

Zimbabwe is going in the exact direction with its emphasis on control, compulsory core subjects, and standardization. In Japan which is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world there is six years of elementary education, three years of junior high school, then three years of high school and university education is optional and lasts for four  years. In spite of this Japan has some of the world’s highest standards in terms of science, maths, literacy and has few peers in technology.This was not achieved through pre historic command education  as is the case in Zimbabwe but careful planning , research , investment in systems and policies over many years .According to studies the Netherlands has the worlds happiest children because their education system does not place a strain on children .Netherlands is among the top 5 countries in terms of quality education in the whole world .Another country worth emulating is Qatar which is investing heavily in education through oil proceeds . The education minister for that country Dr Abdulalla bin Ali Thani [a former teacher] has brought  a revolution in education as a result of futuristic planning and ploughing of resources into the sector .

It is disheartening that only U.S 10 million will be ploughed into orphans and vulnerable children through the Basic Education Assistance Module [B.E.A.M] whilst over U.S  700 million [combined] to the ministry of Defence , Home affairs and the Office of the president .

Zimbabwe is simply not spending enough money on basement development of educational infrastructure, production of textbooks, provision of science equipment and training of teachers. All these are essential in ensuring that an education system is effective and functional. On the upper end there is little investment in research, innovation, information communication technology and industrial development. In the absence of these the thrust of the new curriculum becomes suicidal, genocidal and self-defeating. The new system will virtually set up our children for failure

In essence parents and the people of Zimbabwe must reject the new curriculum as it is not based on current trends and is not supported by macro mechanisms to facilitate up stream activities to absorb products of the new system. Christians should reject this curriculum because it has forced Christianity out of schools even though Zimbabwe is largely  a country with a  Christian ethos . This is not to say Christianity but be forced on children but the Afro Christian consensus of our nation constitutes an indelible component of our nationhood. The curriculum seeks to militarize the education system by turning children into tools of mass political hypnosis.”

 

© Now Daily 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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