Compressed syllabus introduced in Zimbabwean schools

Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema

THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has introduced a Catch-up strategy for primary and secondary school pupils that will see learners who were affected by prolonged non-academic activity because of the Covid-19 pandemic last year being taught 2020 material before proceeding to this year’s classes.

Under the programme, Sunday News understands that in some instances pupils will have to redo their preceding levels syllabi in the first term before proceeding to the next level. For example, those who are in Grade Two this year will have to first complete the Grade One material.

According to the Catch-up strategy document sent to schools and District School Inspectors, which was signed by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Ambassador Cain Mathema, last week, the new learning model provides guidelines for the practical delivery of blended teaching and learning, catch-up activities to compensate for lost learning time, and a coordinated system for accelerated learning, all of which involve the use of alternative learning platforms for the benefit of pupils.

Minister Mathema said the new teaching model, which seeks to enhance the continuity of teaching and learning for all learners at all times in Zimbabwe, drew lessons from the experience of disrupted school activities due to several climatic change phenomena as well as the global Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the new model was designed following a baseline assessment by the ministry which revealed that most learners especially those from public schools, rural areas and council schools had limited access to teaching and learning after the announcement of the lockdown at the end of March last year. He said the first term’s work was covered while that of second and third term was not covered in most schools. That resulted in poor performances by the 2020 Grade Seven pupils.

“The guidelines in this strategy are intended to trigger more school-based innovative strategies for the inclusive, full coverage of syllabi to cover up lost teaching and learning time. The catch-up strategies are grouped into three categories, namely content, learner and teacher enhancement strategies.”

Content strategies include syllabus compression and concept integration, he said.

“Teacher enhancement strategies are, team teaching, Performance Lag Address Programme (PLAP), multigrade teaching and use of Learning Area Platforms (LAPs) to guide teachers to cover up for lost teaching time for the maximisation of teacher-learner contact learning. Learning enhancement strategies include Clinical Remediation, Guidance and Counselling, Child Protection Committees, School Health Services, including Menstrual Health Management, Career Guidance as well as the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme,” he said.

Minister Mathema said the blended teaching and learning approach makes use of both the traditional face-to-face classroom interaction, online learning, home and school-led community-based learning with tutorial support as well as the use of printed self-study guides, revision notes and other modules. – Sunday News