WHEN the sun has set we remember the day with anger and regret; maybe we remember the gone day with sweet nostalgia, but we do not remain there. We sulk or sing, cry or smile, but move on. It is a day gone and a day past. We look forward to tomorrow. People are too busy living from day to day; one day at a time, to become sick about yesterday. If anything, they may be sick about tomorrow, for tomorrow is where they are going. I am not sure if I am talking to anybody here. I am sure I am.
Political drama took place in our beloved country in the past month or so where Zimbabweans celebrated the exit of former President Robert Mugabe who stepped down after 37 years at the helm. Is it not fearfully strange, but interesting that, people like Kudzanai Chipanga, age-wise, only knew one Mugabe and one Father of the Nation? That drama can be neatly compared with what happened in the education sector, can it not? Dr Lazarus Dokora was shown the exit door, with honour or shame; that is not for me to comment. The teaching population and many parents celebrated. That is what happened.
We who have watched the goings on in education with interest and anxiety for a very long time during the reigns of the Mutumbukas, the Fay Chungs, the Coltarts, cannot pretend nothing happened. The story of how Dr Dokora shot himself in the foot until history quickly showed him the red card can certainly not be written in one chapter. Some will remember him for scraping teachers’ incentives. Others will remember him for scraping teachers’ rights to a leave for periods they chose within constituted limits.
Some will laugh at his goats-for-fees idea which even fellow parliamentarians had the temerity to ridicule with a mee-mee sound whenever he walked into the august house to answer questions about what had clearly become what they called an educational circus emerging from his office. Some will remember Dr Dokora for his Chinese suits and a fashionable goatie that one enemy of his I once heard commenting about – “It nauseates all women of substance.”
Extra lessons gave teachers an opportunity to pocket extra money. Dr Dokora said NO! About Scripture Union which many Zimbabweans, especially Christian churches regarded as near “sacrosanct”, Dr Dokora rubbished and was heard castigating, “Schools are not churches”. Heritage Studies came into the curriculum incorporating other religious groupings in what armchair critics called Dr Dokora’s shenanigans to introduce Islam because he was himself Moslem.
He was allegedly promised millions of dollars, if not billions, by filthy rich Islamic fundamentalists who wanted to build Moslem schools in Zimbabwe in line with one of their projects to globalise Islamic fundamentalism, they said.
Some say Dr Dokora was a dictator who never consulted anyone on any of his dreams about education no matter how noble or ridiculous they were. Others said he was downright arrogant and saw everyone as mentally deranged when it came to policy issues in education.
I did say Dr Dokora’s story and how he earned fame for all the wrong reasons cannot be written in one chapter; certainly not in two or three chapters. I am not attempting to write that book here, though the temptation is strong.
All I want to bring out here is that I am aware of how unpopular this everything-you call-him had become. Perhaps even how like the former His Excellency and former Commander in-Chief of the Defence Forces, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe had overstayed his welcome until the army reminded him through General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga who bravely belled the cat.
So let us close that chapter. Dr Dokora is gone and may soon disappear from people’s mouths the way the slogan “STOP IT” has disappeared from people’s vocabulary.
People want to move on and forget about stopping-it or other political jokes and slogans that had come to characterise the cheapness associated with political poverty or emptiness.
Let us go back to the celebrating teachers over the exit of the educational Goliath who many privately hated, but were so scared that they loved him when they saw him or were around him. Did they hate the curriculum or Dr Lazarus Dokora the man? Did they hate both? Are there genuine facts and knowledge behind this enmity or most of it is driven by mob psychology?
Are those who are celebrating saying he “urinated” on Nziramasanga’s recommendation to Government and came out with a new “Windmill” plan of his own imagination? And for this he must go? How many people really know and understand what Dr Dokora messed up? Was his problem a wrong curriculum or a wrong personality and leadership style?
If the concept of an updated or reviewed curriculum as many people claim was Greek to them? Is it likely that many of his enemies have no idea what how come they suddenly understand it to be wrong . . . and wrong enough to deserve its driver torpedoed?
Or is it likely that many who celebrated, especially teachers, did so and continue to do so in the belief that Professor Paul Mavhima will bring back extra lessons and incentives and allow them to stop planning their lessons and doing their marking every day?
Do these teachers who are celebrating expect Prof Mavhima to reward those who leak Zimsec examination papers and bring back teachers’ annual leave? Do they expect the good Prof to stop continuous assessment, learners’ tasks and e-learning? Will he double or even treble teachers’ salaries as Dr Dokora indeed seemed to have failed to do?
Do the parents think he will say you can send your children to school without paying school fees? Will he remove the improper-association-with-school-girls rule and perhaps even give ministerial amnesty to teachers who were dismissed from their jobs for embezzling school funds or improper association? Is the good professor going to allow school heads and teachers to criticise education policy? To openly debate policy and freely suggest how they want to work, their working conditions and salaries? The most important question is, “Is Prof Mavhima going to reverse the new curriculum?”
We can ask questions until the cows come home. That is not the point of this discourse. Its point is to allow people to speak about what they want and what they do not want. The politically minded spoke, “Mugabe must go!” He went. Teachers and non-teachers spoke, “Dokora must go!” He went. Whether or not His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe listened to the people and teachers’ unions’ outcry as some claim, that is beside the point.
The point is Dr Dokora is history – gone! Whither from here? That is the question. Education is the heartbeat of national development. It is a concern for learners and their parents and guardians. What do you expect from Prof Mavhima? What do you want to see that Dr Dokora killed that you want him to breathe life into? What did Dr Dokora not do that you want the good professor to do? That is the dialogue we want here.
Like Crosby, Stills and Nash said in their 1970 signature song “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes” . . . “Let not the past remind us of what we are not now!” We are now in a new dispensation. What can the education sector enjoy from that evolution or revolution?
Let us talk now and not wait until Prof Mavhima exits education’s top office to be told how, like Dr Dokora, he had been worse and not better. We have a right to tell him what we expect him to do to prepare the purposes and futures of our children in the schools under his ministry.
I have planned programmes on DiamondFM Radio-Head to head with MM for four Thursdays in series beginning yesterday to engage persons who feel they have opinions and points of view to make on the topic DOKORA IS GONE, PROF. MAVHIMA IS HERE . . . WHITHER FROM HERE?
Make a date with me Morris Mtisi via WhatsApp on 0773 883 293 to meet on Head-To-Head with MM. If you want to write, you are free to do so and share your insight into the two new-look ministries of education.
Both their shepherd boys were “fired”, Dr Dokora and Prof Jonathan Moyo, some will obviously say they “fired” themselves. They may be right or wrong. All that is beside the point! The issue is the shepherd boys are gone. What happens to the sheep and the grazing land?