Educated but not learned: Time to change curriculum

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Grade 7 results are out. A national pass rate of 37% was realised, down by 9% from the 46% recorded in 2019. An encouraging theme in line with aspirations of Sustainable Development Goals on gender equity being the girl child seems to be holding forte, performing and competing better than the boy child.

By Sapien Sapien

The phenomenon will most likely continue like that for other levels such as Form 4 and Advanced Level. I attended this year’s University of Zimbabwe graduation and remember, if not mistaken, learning that ladies did fairly well as opposed to their male counterparts.

There has been an upward increase in pass rates for the Grade 7 results since the year 2010. Respected educationist, Nziramasanga attributed the change to a change in curriculum, while Takavafira Zhou (2010) posited that this is due to an increased access to interventions such as e-learning, more resources et al.

For context, the pass rate in 2010 was at 25%; for 2011 it improved to 28%; 2012 went up again to 31%; 2013 it went up to 32%; 2014 it stood at 38%; 2016 improved to 42%, improving to 52% in 2018 before coming down to 46% in 2019.

The coronavirus-ravaged year of 2020 recorded a measly 38%, this despite the increased usage of e-learning, availability of big data and a proliferation of a number of learning institutions, opposed by constant absence of teachers from schools, as the higi-haga with the government over motivators and hygiene factors escalate with no end in sight.

What is evident is that there is a clear dichotomy between rural schools and those within the urban centres. A number of schools, I think 49, recorded 0% pass rate against a national average of 38%.

In 2016 again 49 schools recorded 0% pass rate against a far much better national average. This shows that had it not been for e-learning and improved access to literature, the situation would have been worse this year around due to the debilitating implications of lockdowns on socio-economic fabric.

In essence, the negative implications of these lockdowns on education and Pestel in general are beginning to show now that we are in the mid-term. I have been a vociferous critic of these lockdowns. I am yet to recant my stance. That is for another day.

My MBA dissertation managed to show me that there is no sync between industry and the academia. My Asian stint managed to prove that we are taught to be competitive and not to be productive. We are good at cramming to pass. I dazzled in Australia to a point of having them asking why our country was poor besides the obvious reality that our education system seem to produce good products.

In short, I am highlighting that everything resonates around our curriculum. Our curriculum is not inclusive and does not consider a numerous number of factors. It is not engineered towards factoring in the demands of the ever-changing environment, does not consider the demands of the fourth industrial revolution and excludes vulnerable categories such as those suffering from dyslexia.

I am certain that had boxer Derik Chisora not moved to the UK, he probably would be doing some menial jobs in some high-density suburb there.

We had the Nziramasanga Commission Report. I do not know what happened to it. The Singaporeans changed their education curriculum in 2019 from being competition-based to being skills development driven. The thrust is no longer about passing, but teaching kids to be able to possess a skill that will make them survive in a hypercompetitive world.

The Indonesians are changing their curriculum targeting the 0-9-year-old age group, which category of people is believed to constitute the bulk of the middle-class by the year 2040, with huge consumption patterns. This is within the broader realms of seeking to achieve the fourth most developed country in the world by 2045 drive. In Zimbabwe, our kids are still being given 15 marks for proficiency in labelling a grasshopper!

Structural change must be adopted as a matter of immediate priority. Grading pupils based on these results is a national epidemic waiting to explode in the near future.

National security is not only compromised by bombs, but even mindset warfare. No wonder Zimbabweans are susceptible to some of the most diabolical conspiracy theories one can ever come across. We are educated but not learned.

The article first appeared in The Zimbabwe Independent

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