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Poor education policies fail nation

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THE Ordinary and Advanced Level examination results for June this year released by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) are the lowest over many years.

NewsDay Editorial

According to Zimsec director Esau Shingirai Nhandara, 194 278 candidates sat for the June “O” Level examinations and obtained an average pass rate of 37,96%, which was 13,23% lower than last year’s results.

Compared with other years, this is the lowest pass rate. It is discouraging and disappointing that many promising candidates could have failed to achieve their goals. The reasons could be in the poor education policy by Lazarus Dokora’s Primary and Secondary Education ministry.

Since Zanu PF won the July 31 2013 election, it appears the ruling party is concentrating on the wrong things altogether. This is shown by the way Dokora is churning out different pieces of education policies without consulting the education sector.

The consequences could hardly be more serious — children are struggling to compete against those from other countries, for whom education is the fastest route to a prosperous future — a future their own parents could only dream of.

At the heart of any government’s business, education and work policy must be the issue of aspiration and social mobility. Education, in its various forms, should be valued and seen by the nation as a route to success and national prosperity.

But complacency of the Zanu PF government, which overlooks education as a key factor in social mobility, is leading a generation of young people to believe that satisfactory educational outcomes were good enough. The misguided “no extra lessons” mantra by Dokora has failed the young people he is claiming to help.

So Zimbabwe must face the simple fact that, when it comes to standards in educational achievement, children are failing. And, even worse, Zanu PF is failing them.

Why are other regional countries so far ahead of Zimbabwe, when we used to have such a high reputation for academic excellence? This is quite simply due to their attitude towards education.

Schooling in these countries is considered vital to a child’s future; competition is fierce and college degrees are considered an element of social status.
Children are hungry to learn and parents are desperate for their child to succeed. This is not the only reason why these nations are doing so well.

The links between business and education are very strong indeed. And every primary and secondary school there has enough textbooks and sometimes computerised.

Bearing in mind Zimbabwe’s natural resources, it is worrying that we have allowed our young people to fall behind their counterparts. Yet, to be successful as a nation requires the desire to remedy this, to change attitudes towards education, work, business and aspiration.

Dokora should also stop vilifying those who have worked hard to become the successful role models Zimbabwe surely needs.

For education to become a valuable commodity, it must be respected, rigorous and globally competitive. The country must value traditional, respected subjects, but also embrace new technology.

Late ex-British premier Margaret Thatcher once said: “Let our children grow tall and some taller than others if they have it in them to do so.”

So let us maximise the potential of young people; let us “Catch Them Young”, and let us promote the politics of aspiration.

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