CHAPTER 3 THE ZIMBABWEAN EDUCATION SYSTEM
This chapter is going to attempt to bring the dynamics and transformations that have shaped the education system in Zimbabweinto context. This education system has undergone significant changes as it has transformed from a colonial education legacy into a democratic dispensation. The discussion, therefore, traces the development of educationin the country from the pre-independence education system to the existing one. The chapter reveals how some of the precedents and antecedents have had strong bearing on the current beliefs, perceptions, values and practices of Zimbabwean physics teachers.
PRE-INDEPENDENCE EDUCATION SYSTEM
The pre-independence education system in Zimbabwe was based on the promotion of white supremacy. As such, a dual system of education existed. According to Kanyongo (2005:65) and Shizha and Kariwo (2011:17), this system of education was meant to ensure that the Africans would not be in competition with their colonial masters. This stance ensured that education afforded to Africans would not make them compete with the whites in social, economic and political spheres. This obviously indicates the contempt with which the government of the day held Africans. This was subsequently reflected in the quality of the education given them, which wasconsiderably lower than that of their non-African counterparts. This precedent set the stage for the differences in education provisions in terms of curricula, material, human resources and access to education for different races in the then Rhodesia.
The dual system of education that prevailed ensured that the non-African child was well catered for while the African child was impoverished in terms of education provisions. The African secondary education was designed in such in such a way that it served white interests by ensuring the creation of a large pool of cheap labour (Shizha&Kariwo, 2011:18;Peresuh&Nhundu, 1999:25).This implies that the kind of secondary education Africans received was strategically crafted by the white education administrators to guarantee the existence of an abundant labour force that would maintain the efficient functioning of industry, commerce and agriculture. Gatawa (1998:29), Kanyongo (2005:65), Peresuh and Nhundu (1999:25) and Shizha and Kariwo (2011: 18), claim that the African education in secondary schools mainly focused on the acquisition of elementary skills in agriculture, building and carpentry.Acquisition of such skills was instrumental in ensuring that African school graduates would become lower level service providers in industry and commerce. Those educated beyond these basic skills were presumably of great value in their native communities as they became teachers, nurses, clerks or joined the police force (Gatawa, 1998:29; Mavhunga, 2008:35). In this way, African secondary school graduates were elbowed out of the mainstream economy and the learning of science subjects needed in industry.
As if this was not enough, access and progression from one educational level to another level was highly restricted for the African child.Kanyongo (2005:66) points out that African education was mainly in the hands of missionaries and there were few schools specifically meant for African secondary education. This clearly shows the white government was putting African education at the periphery.
Peresuh and Nhundu (1999:33) as well as Shizha and Kariwo (2011:22) argue that the 1966 Education Plan was merely a consolidation of discriminatory educational policies targeted at restricting access, transition and progression of the African child through various levels of education. In a way, the plan was an entrenchment of racial segregation in education provision. Gatawa (1998:23) and Shizha and Kariwo (2011:22) report that according to the 1966 Education Plan, secondary education was divided into three categories, namely the academic route(F1), the Industrial and Agricultural route (F2), and the non-formal route. They further point out that transition from primary level to secondary level was pegged at 12.5% for F1, at 37.5% for F2 and at 50% for the non-formal route. Such a scenario trivialised African child education provision, and worse still, the 50% (non-formal) candidates did not benefit at all. The 1966 Education Plan serves to give insight into the marginalisation of the African child with regard to education provision.
The 1966 Education Plan also created serious divisions among African children following the F1 and F2 routes respectively. Shizha and Kariwo (2011:23) comment that the F2 system of education was stigmatised as an alternative route for those who were academically challenged. Consequently it generated much resentment on the part of Africans, among both parents and the children who felt degraded by the F2 system of education (Gatawa,1998:23).The F2 system was an unwelcome development that was forced on the Africans by the government of the day and as such was bound to eventually meet its demise. According to Shizha and Kariwo (2011:23), only 2.5% of learners who embarked on the F1 route proceeded to advanced level education and were further critically screened before 0.2% was able to progress to university education. Extensive and robust measures were put in place to ensure that very few African children escaped through the bottle-necked education system.
In sharp contrast, no such restrictions were experienced by the non-African child. According to Kanyongo (2005:66) and Peresuh and Nhundu (1999:31), non-African education was compulsory, well-funded and enjoyed good infrastructure, abundant material resources and highly qualified teachers in almost all subjects. These authors note that there were no restrictions in terms of progression from one level to another since there were no terminal examinations such as those that existed for their African counterparts, such as the Grade 7and Junior Certificate levels. The non-African child’s education was spoilt for choice of resources and the system was open for smooth progression from one level to another, in commerce and agriculture (Peresuh&Nhundu, 1999:26; Gatawa, 1998:15; Mavhunga, 2008:34), which guaranteed the learners high chances of success and maximum benefits. The curricula of the non-African education system were quite loaded – designed to churn out champions of industry, commerce and agriculture (Peresuh&Nhundu, 1999:26; Gatawa, 1998:15; Mavhunga, 2008:34).These curricula addressed the basic demands of the economy and ensured firm control of the Africans and the means of production. It was this imbalance between the two systems of education that the curricula of post-independence Zimbabwe sought to address. At the same time, this colonial legacy negatively impacted on the psyche of the Africans and proved to be a hindrance when it came to making informed decisions about what to include in curricula to make them relevant and pertinent to national realities.
In an attempt to diffuse tensions between non-Africans and Africans generated by the dual system of education, the short-lived Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government came up with the 1979 Education Act. One of the underlying motives of this act was to foster some element of integration and reduce polarisation between racial groups (Shizha&Kariwo, 2011:24).The act created three types of schools, these being government schools, community schools and private schools. So in a way, the 1979 Education Act was an attempt to appease restless Africans through a rearrangement of the existing education system setup, which unfortunately was still entangled with the zoning system. The zoning system restricted learners to learning at schools within their residential areas. So racial segregation remained entrenched in the education provision available to the African child. Shizha and Kariwo (2011:24) and Zvobgo (1998:60) state that government schools were further subdivided into three groups, namely Group A, Group B, and Group C, identified by the following features.
Group A schools
These were expensive schools attended by non-African students only. They were located in white suburbs where Africans were not allowed to own houses. They were also well-resourced in material and human terms, and enjoyed a low teacher–student ratio. Proficiency in English and academic ability were prerequisites for entry.
Group B schools
These had low fees, were designed for African students and were located in African residential areas. The infrastructure was substandard compared to that of schools in non-African areas.
Group C schools
Education in these schools was free, but parents were expected to contribute building materials, uniforms, books and stationery. They were mainly located in rural areas where the majority of Africans lived.
Judging by the features of the prescribed group of schools and the promulgated zoning system, the 1979 Education Act failed to promote integration because access was restricted by residence and financial muscle. Consequently, Group A schools remained non-African in terms of both the teachers’ and learners’ population. If anything, the 1979 Education Act managed to reinforce racial segregation in the education sector as it perpetuated the prevailing racial setup. However, the Act had far-reaching consequences in terms of labelling schools as A, B and C, and in its failure to respond to new realities. Attaching labels to schools may have instilled attitudes in people with respect to school capacities and capabilities to offer sound learning experiences and possibly an array of avenues of employment opportunities.
The pre-independence education provision for the African child was racially inspired and designed for the maintenance of white supremacy. The African children had very little in terms of access or material support, whilethe whites enjoyed unlimited access to well-funded and well-resourced schools. The curriculum was heavily skewed in favour of whites, with Africans subjected to a rudimentary curriculum which prepared them for menial jobs. This scenario set the stage for drastic changes in a bid to overhaul the education system soon after the attainment of independence.
POST-INDEPENDENCE EDUCATION IN ZIMBABWE
The new post-independent Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) government decided to utilise education as a medium for social transformation. According to Gatawa (1998:16), Kanyongo (2005:66) and Runhare in Shizha (2013:17), the new government was guided by scientific socialism and education was declared a basic human right. This implied that every Zimbabwean citizen could access and enjoy education. The new government took upon itself to establish schools in rural areas and disadvantaged urban areas. This was a mammoth task; however, the new government had a strong conviction that education would be the bedrock for economic growth, effective land use and for raising the living standards of citizens, as well as creating employment opportunities (Gatawa, 1998:16). However, Gatawa (1998:16) maintains that in the effort to democratise education, sciences and practical subjects requiring specialist rooms and skilled teachers suffered. The lack of science laboratories, equipment and qualified science teachers laid a poor foundation for the teaching of sciences at higher levels. However, it should be acknowledged that at least some milestones in terms of availing opportunities and access to education for most African children had been reached. The massive expansion in school enrolments was, however, not matched by a corresponding investment in human and material resources; hence the quality of teaching and learning was affected, especially with regard to science subjects at senior secondary level.
Maravanyika (1990:16) and Mavhunga (2008:40) argue that the unprecedented mushrooming of private schools with high fees occurred to discourage Africans from intruding into the predominantly white schools. In this way, segregation remained entrenched based on parents’ financial muscle. Very few African children, apart from the offspring the new crop of African leaders and company executives, could afford the exorbitant fees charged by these private schools. Quality education remained a preserve of the privileged few. Kanyongo (2005:66) notes that the overwhelming enrolment of students in urban day schools required these schools to resort to double sessions. The school infrastructure and material resources were subjected to serious pressure, leading to fast dilapidation of buildings and a critical shortage of trained teaching staff. All this had a strong bearing on the quality of education provided to the learners at the end of the day. Resorting to double sessions meant reducing the learning time of the learners, which had serious consequences on the provision of science and mathematics education in the schools. This scenario laid a shaky foundation for the learning of science and mathematics at the senior secondary level.
To substantiate the massive educational expansion and enrolments experienced in schools, the following serves as a classic example of the scenario. According to Mudhenge(2008:4), the number of primary schools increased from 2401 in 1980 to 5 690 in 2008, while learner enrolment jumped by from 819 586 in 1980 to 2 445520 in 2008. He further argues that number of secondary schools increased from 177 in 1980 to 2 182 in 2008, and that Advanced Level schools increased from a paltry 58 in 1980 to 711 in 2008. This was a phenomenal rise that left the government of the day with the daunting task of providing adequate infrastructure, material and human resources. In an attempt to address the human capital gap, the government took on board several initiatives, some of which are discussed below.
In a bid to address the critical shortage of teachers in the primary school sector, the government introduced the Zimbabwe Integrated National Teacher Education Course (ZINTEC) in January 1981. According to Zvobgo (1998:85) ZINTEC was premised on teacher training techniques utilised in refugee camps during the liberation war in Mozambique and Zambia. Zvobgo pointsout that the course revolved around the integration of theory with practice and guaranteed that the student teacher learnt the skills of the trade on the job. This, it can be argued, was a home-grown programme designed to solve a specific need in a particular environment. Maravanyika (1990:17) and Zvobgo (1998:85) posit that the ZINTEC programme stipulated that the student teachers were to have more time in the schools with the learners and a shorter stint doing theory at college. The student teachers spent the first 16weeks in college before they were sent out to schools, and they continued to learn while in full control of a class at their stations. So the learners had the student teachers to guide them in just the basics in terms of learning theories, as opposed to entirely untrained teachers. However, it can be argued that the ZINTEC programme subjected the learners to half-baked teachers who may have done more harm than good in the long term. Whatever the case, the government should be commended for a spirited effort in ensuring that some informed para-professionals took care of the learners during such critical periods.
Chivore (1990:20) argues that the ZINTEC programme is one of the most celebrated post-independence innovations as it managed to reduce the shortage of primary teachers to a large extent. He goes further to suggest that its success was instrumental to the institutionalisation of the four-year teacher training programmes in Zimbabwean education colleges. This suggests that the ZINTEC programme was a relative success and produced tangible results. Currently, all Zimbabwean primary teacher training colleges have adopted a four-year teacher training programme, though the ZINTEC model has been somewhat modified. The student teachers now spend the initial two terms and final two terms in college and five terms in the schools under the guidance of a mentor (Musingafi&Mafumbate, 2014:35). This is an acknowledgement that the ZINTEC model of training teachers was quite instrumental and effective for the Zimbabwean primary school teacher training. What could be more pertinent to this study is the fact that the ZINTEC programme helped to provide qualified personnel at the primary school level. This was quite critical in establishing quality teaching at the foundation level, which could, in turn, provide a solid base for learning at the senior secondary level.
According to Maravanyika (1990:17), for the conventional teacher training colleges a four-year training programme was mooted, in which the student teacher had to undergo two years of theory and another two of teaching practice. Teaching practice was done during the second and fourth years. This arrangement ensured that the student teachers would spent more time with learners in the schools, boosting the number of skilled personnel and assisting the learners in both primary and secondary schools. For the secondary sector this was a worthwhile move since it provided a sound and solid teaching and learning foundation in preparation for senior secondary schooling. On the whole, the decision-makers made a great effort to ensure that skilled human personnel were available for the learners during such difficult times.
To address the critical shortage of Advanced Level teachers, a two-year Bachelor of Education course was introduced to upgrade science and mathematics teachers to prepare them to handle senior secondary classes. According to Maravanyika (1990:17) the programme was introduced at the University of Zimbabwe specifically to address the critical shortage of Advanced Level mathematics and science teachers. This was a welcome development, though given the magnitude of the increased number of learners it was a drop in the ocean. Maravanyika (1990:17) reports that the government embarked on the Cuban science teacher training programme, in which Ordinary Level graduates were sent to Cuba for five years to train as science and mathematics teachers. The student teachers were trained in a foreign language (Spanish) and were exposed to resources that were not available in Zimbabwean secondary school science laboratories. This proved to be a serious drawback when the new graduates returned to face the realities in the schools back home. However, the efforts to train science and mathematics teachers to handle the numerous high schools that had sprouted across the country were a move in the right direction. A reasonable number of teachers were produced to meet the learners’ needs through these initiatives.
The inherited colonial curriculum had largely been condemned as irrelevant to the African child, since it was accused of being based on a capitalist philosophy. As a result the new government focused its energies on re-vamping the curricula to reflect new realities and relevance to the new social order. The government adopted Karl Marx’s concept of polytechnic education with its envisaged thrust of marrying theory with practice. According to Chung and Ngara (1985:105), polytechnic education was designed to manifest itself through the concept of ‘Education with Production’ (EWP) throughout the education curriculum. It was strongly believed that EWP would give the Zimbabwean education system a new purpose. Chung and Ngara (1985:105) and Gatawa (1998:17) assert that EWP was supposed to ensure that all academic subjects had a practical component. Every subject studied at school was expected to demonstrate the link of the theory learnt with practice. It was a noble idea meant to transform Zimbabwean society through utilising education to solve societal problems.
According to Chung and Ngara (1985:106), EWP was first established in refugee camps in Mozambique and Zambia where it proved very successful. In the refugee camps learners spent half the day on academic work and the other half on productive work. The successes of the programme could have been motivated by the need to provide accommodation, furniture and food for the survival of the people concerned. Both teachers and learners involved were well informed on the fundamentals of the concept of EWP. The idea of EWP was brought into the new education system with the hope that it would produce the results that had been obtained in the refugee camps during the war period. However, Chitate, (2015:47) and Maravanyika (1990:19) maintain that EWP was poorly articulated by most teachers and varied interpretations of the concept were evident. Makaye (2014:98) and Maravanyika, (1990:19) suggest that EWP was limited to gardening and the rearing of chickens and rabbits in most schools. Apparently, such activities were closely related to the F2 system of education the Africans strongly objected to during the colonial era. Hence, EWP died a natural death due to poor understanding of the idea by both teachers and the society at large. The new government failed to do a proper job of enunciating the concept of EWP to the teachers and local communities, resulting in the demise of the idea. In essence unlike agriculture, science teaching and learning did not benefit from EWP at all.
Globally, science education is considered to be a significant contributor to socio-economic development. According to Vhurumuku, Holtman, Mikalsen and Kolsto in Holtman and Marshall (2008:223), investment in science education in developing countries is taken as a viable option to poverty alleviation, good health and participatory democracy. In this way, science education is a key ingredient to a good and prosperous social life in general. Zimbabwe was not to be an exception to this phenomenon, taking cognisance of the fact that the majority of the African population had been denied access to science education by the colonial government. In a bid to match other developing countries, Zimbabwe Science (ZIM-SCI) was introduced in 1981 to ensure that every child at secondary school had access to science education in an ordinary classroom.
According to Maravanyika and Ndawi (2011:157), the ZIM-SCI project was focused mainly on rural day secondary schools that lacked science laboratories, electricity and basic equipment for learning science. Maravanyika and Ndawi (2011:157) also posit that the ZIM-SCI project was an adoption of the research of Allan Dock, then a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, targeted at providing science education through distance learning. They further assert that basic kits of apparatus and chemicals accompanied with detailed teacher and student manuals were produced and distributed to schools. Quite a full package was prepared for possible meaningful teaching and learning of the ZIM-SCI course in the schools in an ordinary classroom by an untrained teacher. A handful of teachers were orientated to the innovative science teaching approach and were expected to go and pass on knowledge to their colleagues at their respective schools (Maravanyika&Ndawi, 2011:158). This represented some effort interms of ensuring the innovative science teaching approach took root in teachers; however more could have been done by involving a larger number of teachers. Maravanyika and Ndawi (2011:158) argue that the ZIM-SCI programme was riddled with its own fundamental challenges, among which were the following:
there were few qualified teachers who actually understood what they were leading the learners through;
equipment did not reach the schools in time;
trained teachers found the guides too prescriptive as itrestricted their personal input;
replacement of chemicals and broken items proved to be far more difficult than obtaining original kits;
rural schools welcomed the project while mission schools and urban schools preferred to continue with the conventional approaches;
cheap equipment caused people to be sceptical of ZIM-SCI, and preferred sending their children to established schools that taught science using the conventional approaches.
Despite the numerous challenges encountered in executing the programme, the learners in rural day secondary schools were able to access science education in the comfort of their schools. The ZIM-SCI programme exposed all learners to the three major disciplines of science (biology, physics, chemistry) forming the foundation for senior secondary sciences study. However, the quality of teaching and learning executed by mainly unqualified teachers and primary-trained teachers created a poor foundation for Advanced Level science learning. The cheap science tag associated with the ZIM-SCI was an unfortunate development that may possibly have undermined some of the gains made through this innovative science teaching strategy.
The post-independent Zimbabwe education system was characterised by massive expansion in terms of access to education by previously disadvantaged groups and abolition of racial segregation. However, quality education provision remained elusive for the majority of the African learners. In the same vein, efforts to reform the curriculum to make it more relevant to the new realities failed to bear any fruit hence the inherited colonial curriculum remained
the bedrock of the Zimbabwean education system. While government intentions appeared noble, they were seriously affected by poor planning and implementation strategies. What is of significance, though, is the effort made in investing in teacher quality especially at Primary and Ordinary Levels that indicates commitment to provide quality education at the base, which is the ultimate feeder for the learning of science at the Advanced Level.
LIST OF CONTENTS PAGES
Table of contents
List of tables and figures
List of appendices
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.2 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
1.3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.4 PROBLEM CONTEXTUALISATION
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS OF INQUIRY
1.8 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.9 OUTLINE OF THE THESIS
1.10 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 ROGAN AND GRAYSON’S THEORY OF CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION
2.3 INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEENPROFILE OF IMPLEMENTATION, CAPACITYTOINNOVATE AND OUTSIDE INFLUENCES
2.4 THE TEACHER AND THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.5 FURTHER STUDIES GUIDING THIS RESEARCH
CHAPTER 3 THE ZIMBABWEAN EDUCATION SYSTEM
3.2 PRE-INDEPENDENCE EDUCATION SYSTEM
3.3 POST-INDEPENDENCE EDUCATION IN ZIMBABWE
3.4 THE CURRENT STRUCTUREOF ZIMBABWE’S EDUCATION SYSTEM
3.5 PHYSICS AS A COURSE OF STUDY AT ADVANCED LEVEL
3.6 WHY CHANGE THE ADVANCED LEVEL PHYSICS CURRICULUM?
3.7 THE REVISED ADVANCED LEVEL PHYSICS CURRICULUM
3.8 INNOVATIVE TEACHING
3.9 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
4.3 RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY
4.4 RESEARCH APPROACH
4.5 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.6 RATIONALE FOR MIXED METHODS DESIGN
4.7 METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION
4.8 DEVELOPMENT OF DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENTS
4.9 PILOT STUDY
4.10 SAMPLE SELECTION AND ITS DESCRIPTION
4.11 DATA ANALYSIS
4.12 RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY
4.13 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.14 ANTICIPATED LIMITATIONS
4.15 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
5.2 TEACHER CHARACTERISTICS
5.3 TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE PHYSICS CURRICULUM
5.4 TEACHERS’ LEVEL OF PREPAREDNESS
5.5 TEACHERS’ INQUIRY-BASED PHYSICS PRACTICES
5.6 LINKING OF PHYSICS CONCEPTS WITH EVERYDAY LIFE
5.7 INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION IN PHYSICS TEACHING
5.8 SCHOOL CLIMATE
5.9 STAFF DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
5.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 KEY FINDINGS
6.4 IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.7 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.8 CONCLUSION SUMMARY
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