DAYS could be numbered for independent private colleges playing hide-and-seek with government with regards to the implementation of the new curriculum for primary and secondary education is concerned.
Many of the country’s private colleges are either resisting or finding it difficult to implement the syllabi, with some of them having completely abandoned the local examination body — the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council — in favour of Cambridge International Examinations.
Officials from independent colleges surveyed by the Financial Gazette recently are of the view that implementing the new curriculum would be costly for their institutions because it requires additional staff to cover the new subjects that are part of the new syllabi.
It would also entail that their teaching staff go through re-training while relevant learning material would have to be acquired.
But Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister, Paul Mavhima, said government would clampdown on all institutions defying its directives.
He outlined what he called two issues characterising independent colleges’ terrain.
“Firstly, there are some institutions in this sector that are operating without any form of registration and many of these institutions have approached us and pleaded for the formalisation grace period to be extended.
“Secondly, there are some registered independent colleges that, for one reason or the other, are not implementing the new curriculum, but recruiting trained teachers.
“Now all the institutions choosing to operate without registration risk facing closure, if they do not put their paperwork in order,” said Mavhima.
Christian College of Southern Africa principal, Tichaona Zinhumwe, said the way the new curriculum was structured requires them to change the way they have been enrolling students.
“This poses challenges because we do not have adequate facilities to accommodate these students. Some of the subjects require space and most independent colleges are located in city centres so it will be difficult to implement the new curriculum,” said Zinhumwe.
Most of the independent colleges employ unqualified teaching staff in order to maximise on profits.
To safeguard students’ interests, government has been pushing for the formation of an umbrella association to monitor standards and enforce professionalism, but with very little success.
It would appear that government would be unable to whip them into line anytime soon because most of these institutions are owned by ZANU-PF politicians.
Mavhima, however, said those who are employing semi-qualified teachers should not cry foul when government descends on them because they cannot condone a situation whereby the future of innocent children is ruined by protecting college owners whose motive is entirely hinged on making profits.
As part of the new curriculum, all students are now expected to sit for Maths, English Language, General Science, Indigenous Languages, Agriculture, Physical Education, Sport and Mass Displays and Heritage Studies.
Students who wish to write more than the minimum number of subjects can select from a list that includes Computer Science, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Additional Mathematics, Pure Mathematics, Statistics, History, Commerce, Economics, Principles of Accounts, Design and Technology, Food Technology, Metal
Technology and Design, Home Management and Design and Technical Graphics and Design.
The Education Ministry insists that it is taking Information Communication and Technology, Physical Education and Art subjects seriously as the new curriculum highlights through the compulsory drive towards Mathematics, Science,
Technology, Vocational Studies, Humanities and Heritage Studies.
The new curriculum also advocates for the introduction of industrial attachment for students after their Ordinary Level studies.
Preparation and implementation of the new curriculum began this year with the first and second phases involving training in syllabus interpretation for teachers and supervisors taking the following classes in 2018: ECD ‘B’, Grade
Two, Grade Four, Form Two, Form Four and Form Six.
In 2018, the third phase of the curriculum would be enacted with the further implementation of the syllabuses for the classes afore mentioned and interpretation of the syllabuses to teachers.
Phase four will take place in 2019 and will focus on implementation and syllabus interpretation for teachers taking Grade Six and extending into 2020 for Form Four.
In 2021, phase five will start with implementation of the new curriculum for Grade Six and Form Four.
There will also be training in syllabus interpretation for supervisors and teachers taking Grade Seven classes in 2021.
Phase six is scheduled for 2021 and involves the implementation of the first Junior School Examinations at Grade Seven.
The last phase, coming in 2022, will see the full scale implementation of the new curriculum.
The curriculum will follow a seven-year continuous assessment and monitoring cycle to analyse its strengths and weaknesses. – FinGaz