GRADE 7 final examination candidates will soon write more than four subjects under the new education curriculum, which, among other innovations, demands “thorough” aptitude testing. Multiple choice questions will be reduced, while continuous assessments and practical examination scores will constitute a significant percentage of the final mark.The curriculum comes aboard in 2016, and the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry has already directed the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council to action it.
This dispensation has Grades 3-7 pupils compulsorily adopting nine key learning areas, among them Physical Education, Mass Displays and Sport, Visual and Performing Arts, Science and Technology and Heritage studies.
Mathematics, English, Ndebele and Shona remain in the mix, with pupils being examined on all learning areas come Grade 7. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora exclusively told our Harare Bureau: “The way examinations are structured will change. We do have expression to what the children are learning and we cannot produce that in four (examined areas).
“Four is what the current curriculum is anticipating. We have given Zimsec the task to look at the framework and see how the exam plan can be worked out. Of course, it will carry a lot of the learner’s profile record, and continuous assessment will be factored in.”
He continued: “Certainly, there will be broader inclusion; all learning areas will be reflected in the examinations. We have moved a long way from the traditional Grade 7 examinations. If you compare the previous junior school module and the current one, (you will realise) that they are different.
“The current module has expanded. So, we want an examination that assesses these children who are transitioning from junior school to secondary school. The learning areas ought to be examined and none of them are optional. We expect students to be thoroughly examined at the end of the module.”
Dr Dokora said Government wanted to mould all-rounders.
“There is inclusion of Physical Education and Sport, and (pupils) cannot (opt) out. No one will say ‘I am a Science person, therefore, I will not be involved in any sporting activities’.
“We had created a very bad culture for our children; for children to opt out and only those interested in sports will be involved in sport. Thus, Sport and Physical Education will be compulsory. Every child must have a sport.”
Respected educationist Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga — who led the 1999 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training — said public examinations should be scrapped altogether.
“I do not see any reason for national examinations. I think we should only concentrate on school-based examinations as they are more informative and truer.
“Headmasters and teachers assess students through written assignments, and they know how these students perform. This reflects a better picture of the children’s performance.”
Another educationist, Dr Peter Kwaira, said: “We have a new curriculum that will be introduced soon, thus we need a new way of assessing and examining students. As long as the approach is good, children will not be affected.
“Children of today are flexible due to various technological gadgets that have been introduced into their everyday lives. They are developing at a very fast rate. There shouldn’t be a mismatch between the curriculum and examining methods. Therefore, changing the examination structure is very appropriate.”
From 1990, Zimbabwe has been refining education quality following its massive school expansion programme in the first decade of Independence under the Education For All policy.
The “quality reforms” also focused on curriculum relevance. In 2014-15, Government primed the primary and secondary school curricula for needs-driven education to prepare learners for life and work. The approach emphasises Mathematics, Science and Technology, Vocational Training, Humanities and Heritage studies — all compulsory throughout.