Former Minister of Education David Coltart has added his voice to those who are criticising his successor Lazarus Dokora for the present state of the Education sector. Dokora recently introduced a New Education Curriculum which has been receiving a lot of heat for the way it was implicated.
While Coltart welcomed the curriculum review process, he was against the way it had been implemented and the motivations behind it. Speaking in an interview with the Financial Gazette Coltart said:
It is in that context that, while no one doubts that there is great need for curriculum reform, I fear that there has been insufficient consultation, consensus building and planning
Our outstanding education system has been the bedrock of our nation for decades; as damaging as other ZANU-PF policies have been in other spheres, the fact remains that successive generations of educated Zimbabweans have ameliorated the destruction of our country. It is educated Zimbabweans who have made the difference between a country which still has hope and a failed state. If the education system is now undermined by what appears to be politically-motivated, as opposed to educationally-motivated, policies then it is our duty to speak out.
Coltart expressed his uneasiness at the way the new syllabus appears to be politically in favour of Zanu-PF instead of being balanced. He described the new history and heritage studies syllabi as ” nothing more than propaganda.” Coltart said:
I am very disturbed by certain features of the new curriculum. In particular it seems to me that the new history and heritage studies syllabi are nothing more than propaganda. When I was minister I argued that objective, neutral historians should formulate our history syllabus so that it could be more factual and less politically-biased than the original syllabus. It appears that, if anything, the history and heritage syllabi have become even more politically-biased in favour of ZANU-PF. Key aspects of our history, such as ZAPU’s dominant role, the reasons for the original split between ZAPU and ZANU, Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, Zimbabwe’s war in the DRC have either been ignored or glossed over.
Coltart also warned that the new curriculum was doomed to fail unless the government increased the amount of money allocated to the education sector. Said Coltart
However — and this is key to the entire debate — if the new curriculum is not accompanied by a major increase in the actual amount of government funding for education, it may be doomed to fail. When I was minister I complained about the disparity between the theoretical education budget (the one announced by the Minister of Finance on budget day) and the actual budget (being the actual amount of money disbursed by Treasury to the Ministry).