Zim Govt to build 17 top schools

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Government is set to build 17 world-class primary and secondary schools to match its internationally acclaimed education system, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Professor Paul Mavhima has said.

The country currently boasts 8 500 primary and secondary schools.

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The proposed new schools are part of Government’s short-term plan which will see the construction of more than 2 000 world-class schools across Zimbabwe.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said recently that Zimbabwe needs at least 2 056 institutions.

Addressing villagers attending the commissioning of the Mutoko East constituency Yeukai Foundation in Mashonaland East on Saturday, Professor Mavhima said two of the schools were nearing completion in Hatcliffe, Harare, and Lupane in Matabeleland North.

The brainchild of Mutoko East legislator Cde Mawere Mubvumbi, the foundation seeks to mobilise resources to assist vulnerable, disadvantaged and orphaned children to have an education.

There are 30 children currently benefiting from the foundation.

Professor Mavhima said: “These schools would be built to match international standards with state-of-the-art buildings, teachers’ houses, classroom blocks, laboratories including sporting and other facilities.”

He said Government would continue working on maintaining the high education standards attained since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

Government reserves 25 percent of its annual budget for basic primary and secondary education.

Professor Mavhima said the new schools would augment the curriculum review being introduced in the education system.

“In contributing to the economic development of Zimbabwe, we (education sector) have decided to improve the education system to include other skills that produce complete graduates.

“We have since embarked on a curriculum review and introduced a new syllabus which specifically targets sciences, technical subjects, engineering, mathematics, creative arts and innovations.

“The syllabus would also want to make sure that before a child completes his or her education, they should be competent in computer skills, business management while making sure that they grow up knowing their talents and skills,” he said.

Government is reviewing the curriculum from Early Childhood Development (ECD) to secondary level.

“The Curriculum Review is an integral component of the ministry’s strategy to produce graduates who respond to the needs of the environment and are fit for the purpose.

Through the new curriculum, the ministry intends not only to provide holistic education for all learners and to develop the whole child socially, physically, intellectually, creatively and emotionally . . .”

Professor Mavhima said the old syllabus had, in the era of accelerated technological and social transformation, become increasingly irrelevant as it was based on abstract, fact-centred and de-contextualised knowledge.

“Hence, the education system was overhauled to ensure that the curriculum is skills-oriented and prepares learners for lifelong learning, the world of work and entrepreneurship.

“The academically-oriented curriculum offered at secondary level has highly contributed towards unemployment among Zimbabwean youths as it was not skills-oriented and it captured little talents from the underprivileged and orphaned communities.”

The deputy minister said among the strengths of the new curriculum were inclusivity, which puts more emphasis on continuous assessment giving strength of capturing innate talents in special needs children.

“In ensuring that the orphans and vulnerable learners are well embraced, the new curriculum promotes STEM, Tech-Voc and the creation of a five pathway system to cater for the varied learner competences.

“It is important that learners be given the opportunity to choose their pathways in relation to their individual capabilities and aspiration,” he said.

The five pathway system includes STEM, visual and performing arts, humanities and languages, design and technology and commercials.

Methodologies encouraged in the updated curriculum, Professor Mavhima said, are learner-centred and put emphasis on exhibitions through festivals.

Syllabuses have been developed to cater for various learner competences which include computer science, dance, literature in indigenous languages, heritage studies, life skills orientation programmes, mass displays, film studies, theatre arts, sports science and technology, software engineering and other various technology learning areas.

These promote leaner exit profiles such as critical thinking, problem solving, self-initiative, enterprising, ability to plan and organise and various literacies.

“Given the complexities of today’s ever-changing world, contemporary approaches to curriculum development far exceeds the traditional understanding of curriculum as merely plans of study or list of prescribed content.

“Issues related to quality education, equity, gender, inclusivity and respect for life and property are factors that influenced this updated curriculum we are currently implementing.”

Professor Mavhima said the curriculum has life-skills orientation programme meant to create synergies between schools, communities and enterprises while encompassing relationships between learners and their community.

The curriculum review needed collaborative effort in planning and implementation hence the need for ideas from a broad spectrum of society and achieving national consensus, he said.