Education Ministry appeals to lawmakers for CALA support
Harare (New Ziana) – The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on Tuesday pleaded with lawmakers to support the country’s new competence-based curriculum, which now contains the widely disliked Continuous Learning Activity (CALA) syllabi.
Appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on primary and secondary education, Ministry chief director for curriculum development and technical services, Cyprian Masocha said a review of the curriculum was underway, and implored MPs to render support for the exercise.
CALA has been heavily criticised for overloading learners with workload, much of which ended up being done by parents and guardians.
During curriculum review consultations conducted in schools countrywide recently, parents and teachers rejected CALA in its current state and called for its fine–tuning.
“The review process is still ongoing, and among other activities, we continue to engage stakeholders as we collect data, then move on to data analysis and produce a curriculum review report, draft revised curriculum framework and validation,” Masocha said.
“Alone, as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we cannot make it. We need you all to walk with us, advise us and support us,” he said.
Masocha said CALA was expected to help produce young Zimbabweans who are knowledgeable, can think critically, creatively and solve problems.
“The curriculum ensures that pupils acquire practical skills as they complete Form 4 and 6 and can easily be absorbed in higher and tertiary education institutions to further their education. We need students to address challenges on contemporary life in Zimbabwe,” he added.
“As such, we call for your support and input to ensure that in all our efforts to educate the nation, we work towards producing pupils who have key competences necessary for national development.”
Masocha said parents were having to do CALA work for their children because the learners in some instances could neither read nor write, deficiencies which would be solved by the new curriculum.
“You find parents complaining to say we are now doing the CALA for our children. In most cases it’s because those pupils are unable to read and write at grade 6, unable to read and write at Form 3. That is why we have come back to you to say assist us so that we improve our curriculum to make sure they are able to read and write,” he said.
But Bikita East MP, Johnson Madhuku said there was a need to reduce the number of projects being done by learners so as to make their work manageable.
“Let us reduce these CALAs. In its current form, teachers are being paid to do CALAs for pupils and parents are doing them for pupils,” he said.
Mt Pleasant legislator, Samuel Banda said: “CALA is not a bad thing at all. CALA is good but the teachers’ attitude towards it is not good, parents’ attitude towards it is not good. Let us reduce the size of CALA to one particular exercise.”