National pledge to stay: Minister

Professor Paul Mavima

GOVERNMENT will not do away with the National Schools Pledge but might consider working on re-wording it and ensure that it is recited not only in the schools but at different fora.

The National Schools Pledge was introduced in schools last year and sparked outrage from all sectors with some suggesting that it was smuggled into the new curriculum as it was not part of the Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga report.

Addressing teachers and other stakeholders at Mzilikazi High School yesterday at a curriculum review symposium, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Professor Paul Mavima said the pledge would not be scrapped.

“We are a young nation, we have to affirm our Zimbabwean identity and we have also to affirm the various groups, ethnicities, regions of our country to make sure that we develop a strong national identity.

“It’s not true that Nziramasanga did not broach the national pledge. He had even written a small book on the need for the national pledge. His is not even a national schools pledge but a national pledge,” said Prof Mavima.

He said Dr Nziramasanga was proposing that the National pledge be all encompassing and not just be for school children.

“I have engaged him in the past two weeks, he has given me that book. He says maybe the wording of this pledge may not be the right wording.

“He also says it’s unfortunate that we are only requiring it for school children. It’s supposed to be a national pledge so that we build an identity around it,” said Prof Mavima.

“So when you just say because Nziramasanga did not mention it, let’s get rid of it, I don’t agree. If you say let’s help each other around the wording and also the level of application, I say kudos to you we can do that,” said Prof Mavima.

Teachers that attended the symposium said they want the new curriculum and the schools pledge to be done away with.

Prof Mavima said the call to drop the new education curriculum is not sustainable.

“The call to drop the curriculum is a call to take us back, it is suicidal and therefore not sustainable. We really have no dream to drop the new curriculum but to continue perfecting it until we realise the vision.

The vision is to use education as a transformative tool to help Zimbabwe to move into the 21st century, to help Zimbabwe to move from poverty to wealth and I think we can do this in one generation,” said Prof Mavima.

Teachers at the symposium highlighted a number of issues among them lack of infrastructure, inadequate training, difficult and too many tasks and projects.

The teachers suggested that more practicals be introduced other than Agriculture which is compulsory and straining the few teachers who take it at the schools

Minister Mavhima said tasks have to be localised to suit the environment and should be limited to one per year to ensure proper supervision.

“The tasks for Tsholotsho have to be different from tasks for Bulawayo because Tsholotsho is different from Bulawayo. Maybe you want the game rangers visiting the schools instead of the schools visiting the game parks because it’s not feasible always.

“There is a way you can be innovative about these things and be able to achieve your goals. Let’s work on things that impede the development of the new curriculum but let’s realise the value that this new curriculum brings to our nation,” said Prof Mavima.

The Minister said he was continuing with consultations and also engaging academics.

“I have started receiving recommendations, I have contacted deans from all universities, made submissions on the new curriculums and I have even contacted David Coltart who was Minister of Education prior to Dr Lazarus Dokora and he has given me his input. Dr Nziramasanga himself has given me his input. I continue to do these interactions with teachers and parents so that I get your inputs,” he said.

Prof Mavima said starting next month, 17 new schools would be constructed and are expected to be complete in six months.

“These new schools will be comprehensive with everything, science labs, and computer laboratories at every primary school. They are going to have decent accommodation for our teachers, we can’t afford a school that is not complete anymore,” he said