Dear Mr President
There is no doubt you will win the July 30 election. Even Thomas in the Bible would believe that if he were here today. Though my vote is supposed to be private, you may want to enjoy the knowledge ahead of the election that ED has my vote together with all those who see real hope in the Zimbabwean economy and body-politics.
I’m not so much of a politician, and wish not to become one at all Mr President, but I do quietly and intelligently follow where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going.
There is no doubt you have brought about change on the Zimbabwean political landscape except for those who don’t know the meaning of ‘‘change’’ or at least pretend they don’t know what the word means. Mr President, if anyone still sees Robert Mugabe’s Stop-It days and his Keep-your-America-I-keep-my-Zimbabwe diatribes and all those infamous UN stage performances or Mark Antonian oratories, his or her political vision is terribly impaired.
We are in a new dispensation now. It is true and it is no joke. If that makes me a politician, then I am, Mr President, a politician . . . God knows what I will do with my cowardice. Politicians are clever people, very brave and often thick-skinned. I am none of the above Mr President.
While many people see you as a true Joshua-come-alive to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from an old troubled Egypt of economic and social suffering into a Canaan flowing with socio-political and economic milk and honey, including myself of course, there are only two areas I am praying you don’t overlook in your ‘‘Zimbabwe is open for business’’ vision and campaign: namely that in the same vein, Zimbabwe must deliberately become open for sound education as well.
We need a lot of investors who must directly invest in our education which in the final analysis is a better tool with which to fight poverty and ignorance than jobs and hand-outs: Beware Mandela’s words! While we need investors to assist in the regeneration of our dead or sleeping industries and of course a resurrection of employment opportunities in our beautiful country, we need direct investment straight into education by investors who have an interest in education best practices that prepare young Zimbabweans to be fit for purpose rather than investors only interested in the wealth under our feet; our mineral wealth.
Our education sector is deficient and ailing in many ways. Thanks to the idea of a new curriculum and the appointment of new dispensation Ministers, Professors Paul Mavima (Primary and Secondary Education) and Amon Murwira . . . (Tertiary and Higher Education) who, with you, are ready to lead the fight to bring about the desired change in Zimbabwean education.
I am a simple education journalist and guest education columnist with The Manica Post, a former classroom practitioner currently an independent consultant in the teaching and learning of English Language and Literature in schools. This is where my ‘‘politics’’ is confined, and only here, and not the Science of Government and Governance.
My concerns, for now, are brief and clear.
Mr President, while our students in schools are now capable of breaking unprecedented academic records, some as many as 18 As at Form 4 and as many as 35 points at A level seven subjects . . . all. As, we do have a humourless problem with the characters and personalities of these children in these high schools, especially those in institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities).
Mr President, if we continue to fold our arms, perhaps just continue to watch and look aside, the education system is going to continue to produce brilliant students whose morality is not good for a developing nation like ours. There is moral decay, staid moral decay, in schools. The rot is grimmer and literally graver in universities. This is clearly not the Zimbabwe anybody wants; a Zimbabwe known for high academic standards and stinking morality.
Mr President, we need serious programmes of behavioural transformation in schools and universities to urgently address sexual harassment, student prostitution, narcotic drugs consumption and pushing, and other forms of moral decay. We all know this happens . . . everybody knows this, but no one wants to talk about them. Perhaps just talk about them, but not doing anything!
Without cheaply blaming the students or the institutions, Mr President, we need serious Guidance and Counselling Programmes that bring about visible and desired behavioural transformation. The new curriculum accommodates an area of Ubunthu/Hunhu. Thank you. But that alone, without tangible programmes of behavioural transformation, will not bring about the desired behaviour change in our students. The business-as-usual kind of lip service about Behaviour Change currently visible in the schools will not drive away the rampant celebrations of decay. Mr President, this behaviour pandemic is far worse in colleges and universities.
Your Excellency, we implore your voice and wisdom in this fight against moral decadence. We are aware the First Lady, Amai Mnangagwa and Cde Stembiso Nyoni of the Ministry of Youth and Women’s Affairs are equally worried and determined to assist towards this direction. We have new ideas and approaches that only need their attention but not without your voice.
The rest we can do alone together with other progressive-minded groups and organisations. Yet, without your voice in this important area of education, we will continue to suffer from bureaucratic or red-tape delays in implementing critical programmes.
Mr President as you continue to open Zimbabwe for business, it is my sincere appeal that you also in the same vein open up education business especially in the area of student behaviour. I am prepared, ready to meet you Mr President, this or that side of the elections we know you will win, to hear our story, our idea and what kind of support our registered organisation wants from you to assist the education sector to run effective, efficient and efficacious guidance and counselling programmes.
The second and last concern, Mr President, is a kind request of your magic; the magic you used to end an old, obstinate and debilitating political regime in November 2017. In the same way, please kindly end the exploitation of Zimbabwean writers or authors by Zimbabwean publishers. We have celebrated authors in Zimbabwe who died paupers because of deeply entrenched exploitation of writers by existing established publishing houses.
Mr President, you know as well as everyone does that without writers there are no books and without books there is no education at all. Yet, Mr President, everyday schools photocopy authors’ books without their concern and deny them wealth that must come from the book that must pay its writer. Book piracy is openly rampant in schools.
Schools buy heavy-duty copiers, not to process school examination reports and other documents or print school examinations, but to busily photocopy published books without the author’s consent or permission. If your magic Mr President is not used to end this open crime, this exploitation of an industry that must employ a portion of the Zimbabwean population who toil day and night, burning the candle on both ends to write books, will go on forever. And all I am saying is, “Not in the new dispensation!”
It is my submission, Mr President, that the new-dispensation politics must be seen and felt in all areas of life that for more than two decades until November 2017, nagged Zimbabweans and throttled progress. And democratisation of and making education meaningful is one such area of life!
The publishers of books take away all the money from the book writers, leaving them with peanuts not even good enough for monkeys. For how long, Mr President? If everyone else has talked, and the crime has defiantly continued, the way the “STOP-IT” regime continued without anyone lifting a finger, it is not stupid, Mr President, to turn to you when we have no answers to our heartfelt problems.
In November 2017 you changed rats to mice; wolves to sheep . . . blue to grey . . . we saw that, Mr President. If you did the impossible in a while, certainly you can do difficult things immediately.
Surely you can add the missing voice in the fight to end or reduce the crisis of our children’s moral decay in schools, especially in the colleges and universities. Surely Mr President you can tell the publishing houses to grow a conscience and stop squeezing blood out Zimbabwean authors who get ‘‘nothing’’ from books that must pay them. That is exploitation as raw and crude as it was perpetrated by Ian Smith and his cowboys.
If common sense, copyright laws, lobbying and reasoning have failed, and all these have failed, the only remaining option is your office Mr President. Surely Your Excellency, you can also overnight stop schools from the heinous theft of the wealth of writers which they carry out in broad daylight by massive and indiscriminate photocopying of their work.
Mr President, there are many screams we can make to you about our daily discomforts, but a few at a time are enough for one discretional child. We know you only have two ears, but they are enough, Mr President to listen to everyone. There is no problem too small for you to listen to. Please kindly push our canoe into the river. We will do the rest by paddling it on our own.
We are making appropriate protocols to get to you this or that side of the election that you will certainly win on July 30. We know you will create a little space off your mammoth schedule to listen to us and assist us to ease our challenges as we do our everyday work for ourselves, our communities and our Zimbabwe.
Mr President, I will end with a question or two. Are there any investors interested in investing in home grown educational programmes that can end some of our woes in the education sector, like the ones suggested to you in this very short letter?
If so, is it asking too much to ask relevant arms of your government to connect some of them to us . . . so that we can directly present to them suggested home grown best practices to deal with specified Zimbabwean challenges around education? These we want to fight, as we have always wanted to do, together with the mainstream education sector.