Morris Mtisi Post Correspondent
Is school only about passing examinations and qualifying to proceed to the next grade, and ultimately to college or university? What about growing in stature and in-deed? What about growing up in discipline and responsibility?
The new curriculum answers the above questions with ease, but may be with so much ease that the criticalness of ubunthu is ultimately reduced to insignificant.
While teachers, parents and guardians…and learners, visibly commit themselves to achievement of grade As and Bs, and put every effort into making the grades possible, the conveyor belt churns out thieves, drug-takers, unpatriotic young citizens and student prostitutes and all sorts of moral deviants in the same process. Such an education is dead.
An education that specializes in preparing students who pass learning-area examinations but fail the behaviour examination is a waste of time, money and other resources.
While the updated curriculum mentions ubunthu or hunhu, does it give the idea a real face in the context of seriousness of purpose? Does it give the idea a model to work around? What are the activities suggested to foster ubunthu or hunhu in children and young adults who go to school? Does the curriculum cleanly stipulate these? My answer is NO! What is yours?
The Government, including the new-look Mavima ‘dispensation’ is busy working on amendments and adjustments to do with content and implementation. It is busy working out best practices to make the best out of what is taught and learnt. That is perfect.
It has recently quickly suggested a programme to ensure that college and university exit profiles are fit for economic purpose; graduates who meaningfully occupy positions in commerce and industry. Whether Government continues to call it STEM or give it a new name following the politically bad blood between it and its protagonist, Jonathan ‘Jona’ Moyo’s evaporation in the whirlwind of change in the country, its purpose remains the same and critically important for national development. That is the way to go.
It will not matter whether the cat is black or white, so long as it catches the mice. It seems with the coming into office of the careful, steady and calculating Mavima, the updated curriculum is headed for a genuine recovery-poll and path from hated to tolerated and ultimately to being totally accepted.
But the new Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and his counterpart in the Tertiary and Higher Education, Professor Murwira, both need to seriously push for a reviewed curriculum which fosters ubunthu /hunhu in our children at whatever level of their education.
The behaviour, moral conduct, of this education’s exit profiles needs to determine the honour and integrity of the nation through the beneficiaries of its education system.
Why have most of our civil servants been embroiled in corruption and fraud in the execution of their duties? Why have some of our Government senior officials, including Cabinet ministers been involved in shameful and gross abuses of office and in some cases daylight theft?
Imagine a highly educated official of the Government allegedly hoarding millions of cash while ordinary man and woman in the street including old men and women sleep on the pavements of banks to withdraw a paltry fifty dollars of their hard-earned money?
A former Cabinet minister allegedly hoards medical drugs intended for poor people, wheel-chairs, seed-maize and other agricultural inputs and mechanisation equipment that were meant for peasant communities! If such people went through school, primary and secondary education and ultimately college and or university, there can only be something grossly missing in that education.
If an education produces the wrong exit profiles, it hands over to Government and society executive thieves, crooks, liars, prostitutes and incompetent leaders and managers of people’s lives.
It produces nation destroyers, not nation builders. It produces looters of wealth who are corrupt through and through; dangerous leaders who cheat and lie and cover up for their crimes instead of admit and confess them and ask for forgiveness.
When the nation, any nation, stinks with corruption and undemocratic treatment of the people, intimidating them instead of protecting them, threatening them instead of calming and comforting them, forcing them instead of educating and persuading them, it is not politics that is wrong; it is education. It is education that is ill-planned and ill-organised.
When a nation struggles to convince citizens to vote in an election, to a point of almost literally forcing them to register to vote, that is a reflection of the caliber of the electorate. They have no idea of the critical importance of a vote and what it means to cast a vote.
Someone once said: “The results of any election always reflect the caliber of its electorate?” True or False? I leave that to you to decide.
But what I want to say to Prof Mavima and other directors of education is, “Education drives economies and governments.” Therefore what it adds up to is simple.
A wrong education system feeds government and society with wrong people who are corrupt, who are brutal, who are dictatorial, who lie, who are not honest, people who have no honour or integrity; people who steal from the government that employed them and from the people whose hopes and lives they are supposed to uplift.
A wrong education system produces politicians who frighten the people who voted them into power; politicians who are corrupt; politicians who indicate they are turning right…then they turn to the left; politicians who thrive on hate and intolerance; politicians who busy themselves with squabbling and fighting amongst themselves instead of nurturing economic development; people who make noise every day and fight every day and only wake up when whatever they have been fighting for and about has disappeared.
A wrong education produces married couples that cheat each other, are unfaithful to each other and ruin their own lives with their own cheapness of mind and heart. Churches yes, have a role to play. But it is the education system that must inculcate moral values in the minds and hearts of its clients.
A wrong education produces teachers who cheat examiners in examinations, leak examination papers and make the whole teaching and learning process a game of tricks.
It places bad school heads in good schools where they cheat every rule and regulation; where they sell places for poor parents and make money for themselves through all sorts of corrupt ways.
And those who are supposed to root this rot out pretend they do not know. In many schools corruption grows every day and no one speaks out, as if these are empty gossip stories that do not happen. People who are supposed to see all this rot are blind. And all who are supposed to hear these true stories are deaf. The ones who ought to talk are dumb. Can there be worse corruption?
A wrong education produces policemen who end up stealing from people including dead ones in a road accident; policemen who forget they are keepers of law and order but become looters and bribe-mongers in broad daylight.
A wrong education produces public transport drivers who think that passengers are baggage and luggage with no rights and feelings or a conscience. They drink and drive, speed and put every passenger in danger. The bus drivers and their conductors literally abuse the passengers with their muscles and foul language! God forbid!
I can go on until tomorrow.
The point has been made, I hope. It is not the Sciences or Languages or Commercials that matter in a classroom. It is the character that is built around the teaching and learning that makes education sensible. Education without serious emphasis on ubunthu/ hunhu is dead.
Good education, anywhere in the world, teaches and produces people, not greedy, selfish, heartless and violent wild animals. Zimbabwean people need and deserve a new education which creates nation builders and developers; not nation wreckers and looters!
There can and may never be a better time to turn a new leaf and build a new nation than now when brave wise-men and women realized Zimbabwe was quickly going back to the stone-age in the hands of a stubborn, un-listening, Robert Mugabe and his interesting wife.
There can never be a better time than now when a new transformative dispensation is visibly ready and hands-on to do the best for Zimbabwe. May it be so even in the education sector!