THE Continuous Assessment Learning Activities (CALA) are a key feature in the country’s primary and secondary school curriculum and will not be scrapped, but components per learning area might be reduced, a Government official has said.
This comes as Government will this week begin a countrywide public awareness programme to educate key stakeholders in the education sector on the current curriculum, especially the CALA component.
Last week, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education held curriculum review public consultation meetings across the country. The objective was to assess reception of the school curriculum introduced in 2015.
At meetings attended by this publication in Harare, the most contentious issue was CALA, with most stakeholders — especially parents and guardians — urging Government to remove some components in the curriculum. The ministry’s communications and advocacy director, Mr Taungana Ndoro, however, said there was misinformation and misunderstanding on the issue, hence Government was going to conduct public awareness campaigns.
“The meetings went on very well. However, we realised there is misunderstanding and misinformation with regard to CALA,” he said.
“Most parents and stakeholders do not understand what CALA is and think that it is expensive and can only be conducted if one is connected to the internet, which is wrong and not true.
“As the ministry, we realised that those who believe it should be scrapped or removed from the school curriculum do not understand it. So, starting from next week (this week), we are conducting awareness campaigns that seek to educate parents about CALA and what it is.”
He said it was too early for stakeholders to call for the removal of CALA, especially when most do not understand what it is.
“CALA seeks to promote critical thinking, innovation and promote problem-solving skills, and this is in line with education 5.0 and the National Development Strategy 1.
“In addition, if we remove it now, it will also be detrimental to our curriculum, so we are going to continue with the engagement until we find each other.
“Stakeholders who understand CALA say it should not be scrapped but some components should be reduced.”
Prof Nziramasanga’s views
Education expert Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga, whose pioneering research under the Nziramasanga Commission formed the genesis of CALA, said Government should reduce the number of CALA components per subject to ensure learners fully benefit from the exercise.
“Reduction of the number of activities per subject should depend on the grade or ability of the learner. A learner should have one or two activities per subject they master from primary to secondary level.
“After O level or A Level, if they cannot proceed, they can join vocational training centres.
“The research part should be removed and the activities left with a practical side that lets the learner get the highest point of skills in any activity.”
Prof Nziramasanga said other examination bodies should be allowed to assess CALA to ensure and improve quality.
“CALA should be used to screen learners, so that those who are not academically gifted can exclusively focus on practical subjects and they can be assessed by HEXCO (Higher Education Examinations Council).
“This helps learners to be masters in specific disciplines. The education we now need is one that lets learners create their own employment,” he added.
Continuous assessment refers to evaluation of a learner’s progress throughout a course of study, rather than exclusively by examinations.
Recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Education and Training of 1999, which is commonly known as the Nziramasanga Commission, emphasised on use of continuous assessments in schools.
CALA was introduced in 2021.
Under CALA, learners in examination classes — Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper 6 — work on projects that constitute 30 percent of the final mark.
Currently, a learner submits three CALA components per learning area, starting a year before the final examination.
Through CALA, learners have to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a subject.