guest column:Bothwell Riside
I HAVE heard a lot of people across the nation talking about the Grade Seven results of 2019. The examination authority, ZimSec, has managed to produce the results of this year well in time and this is good news for parents, since they will have enough time to look for Form One places. One development worth mentioning is the EMAP application which is making life easier for parents, considering the economic difficulties being faced in the nation. A responsible ministry, just as what the Primary and Secondary Education ministry has done, must always research the requirements of their clients and put forth systems that would help alleviate obstacles. Of late the pain of having a child with double figure Grade Seven units was aggravated by the toil that the parents found themselves entangled in trying to secure a boarding place for their children. Parents became vulnerable to the marauding corrupt elements in this sector who would like to make rich pickings from desperate citizens they ought to be serving with distinction. As such , the bribe route for a parent was the only cheaper option considering the costs one would have incurred by hopping from one school to another. At least EMAP, despite technological literacy deficiency of citizens, came as a solution that reduced time and financial resources by a fair percentage.
Why Grade Seven results are important.
I wonder which organisation these days would make a Grade Seven certificate or qualification a minimum standard entry point. What is interesting though is that when this year’s results were announced, a lot of people started to make their own evaluations and recommendations. An outside observer would be mind-boggled to find out that all this emphasis was being placed on mere Grade Seven results. Some teachers, especially in private schools, lose their jobs or retain them based on these results. Schools like Dudley Hall in Norton Mashonaland West literally brought the small dormitory town to a standstill, with wild celebrations deafeningly echoing through the streets in celebration of these mere Grade Seven results. Of course having 50 students with five units was incredibly phenomenal. Academic excellence output for some schools was well achieved, while statistics shows that a number of schools have performed below expected levels academically.
I imagine how a school where there are no external examinations being given to check on the standards and how the teachers do their work would function. While the old curriculum will last see the sun this coming year, non-examined subjects in the primary school — about to be phased out curriculum such as Home Economics, Art, Music, Health and Life skills, and Physical Education — may not have been given attention since January. A snap survey of this assumption would prove how inadequate the curriculum is. It’s true that the national examinations enable our primary schools to have targeted outcomes and are a push and motivating factor on their own. A goal oriented approach to education definitely ensures that all systems work flat out to achieve the intended objective. The basis of primary education is number and word literacy as well as shaping a total child. The results, perhaps due to their measurability, are becoming the major output being focused on. While I applaud the schools that did well in the examinations, I am still against the process and the blind eye that our schools are giving to other non-testable subjects and areas in the curriculum.
As an educator who has been conspicuously excelling in this field, I believe the Grade Seven results must only be used for a summary evaluation of the primary school education. Schools must never enrol children based on the Grade Seven results. The Education Act clearly states that no child should be excluded from school, therefore using Grade Seven results to screen children greatly lowers their self-esteem. Besides this being a psychological discrimination, the screening makes those schools that have already made names for themselves appear good while they will only be doing quality control measures right from the outset. I believe good teachers must take in any child and nurture him or her to pass. If a school is good, it takes a child with 45 units at grade seven and grow him or her to get 6 Cs at ordinary level.
ICT the modern way
Today the world is centred primarily on ICT and computers. This subject ought to be taken seriously. Computer technology has become the hub of e-commerce, e-business, e-education, and many other areas. At primary school level we expect our children to have already become computer users with basic proficiency. Computer skills like word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, image building, databases, and elementary programming must be introduced. Easy programming languages should be done at primary school level, while all that is being done at diploma level in our country should be completed at secondary school level. When our students go to university, we want proper computer students who develop systems that assist our country to run well. The benchmarking of technologies ought to be done with haste to make the country move forward. I take celebrating the one sided aspect of educational outputs with a pinch of salt.
Grooming at young age
Grooming our children is of paramount importance in the education sector. This shapes our nation culturally and I am going to look at the ramifications of having a country that has its pupils down there unrefined. Greeting and respecting elders is taught at home and I think as a country we are doing well here. However there are some aspects we ought to teach our children both at home and at school. I really feel so sad when I look at our current crop of politicians.
They are corrupt, greedy, hard headed, violent, cruel, unrelenting, unapologetic, gullible, and all sorts of other things. I respect a man called Skosana Moyo a lot. If my memory serves me well, he is the only minister who resigned without being pushed out of Mugabe’s cabinet. He saw that what he stands for and what Mugabe was doing is in violation of his ethics and beliefs. I would never want Kasukuwere, Mai Mujuru or whoever was dining with Zanu PF before to try and point out the negatives today when they are out in the cold there. Neither can Jonathan Moyo start to be a saint today when he was in the government. The only Saint is Skosana Moyo as it stands. Even our current president saw fit to do an operation restore to restore his legacy late only after being relieved of his duties as Vice President, when he was presiding over the rot. Today our problems and criticism of the current government are as a result of an education system that promoted radicalism, egocentrism, Maoism , and all sorts of unsavoury ideologies in our children. I sometimes laugh my lungs out when I see how information departments in the two largest parties cosmeticise issues to make them look good. Our nation has lost men and women of integrity, who call a spade a spade. Our education system has created politicians who are ruthless, unforgiving, and intolerant. Schools must be the hub for ethics, morality, accepting defeat, giving in, teaching tolerance, empathy etc. There are many things to hate or like about the British, but I for one love how principled they are. David Cameroon and Theresa May threw in the towel when they realised that their beliefs were no longer resonating with the people they purported to lead. In my country it’s only Nkosana Moyo. We got educated in a radical way by radical teachers who used cruel and unorthodox means to achieve results. We produce products that are radically made and would mimic their teachers and society. We ought to be empathetic to the future generation of our country.
Celebrating while sad
I will condemn the percentage pass rate drop and celebrate the achievements of other schools while making an informed evaluation that we are tragically achieving one objective of education which is number and letter numeracy while ignoring other important educational objectives. Process and summative evaluation of the goals of education must be done.