The Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) commends the New Dawn Administration for being keen on setting up new policies in the education sector that will bring about changes in the school curriculum.
BETUZ Secretary General Henry Sinkala noted that the efforts being put in place by the New Dawn Government must be appreciated because the last time there was a new curriculum review was in 2013 which was later implemented in 2014.
“By our standards as a country as a sector we are supposed to review the curriculum every after five (5) years, so I would safely say that it’s been long overdue,” he said
Mr Sinkala added that the impact of the Free Education Policy has been very positive and enormous and every Zambian has appreciated the New Dawn Government policy on free education visa-vi trying to enhance quality and accessible education by employing over 30,000 teachers.
He explained that before inviting stakeholders in the education sector to make their submissions on the expectations to be included in the new curriculum, there’s need to conduct a revision of the current curriculum to ascertain what worked best and what didn’t work, as this will help to build on what should be included in the new curriculum going forward.
“The Free Education Policy is one of the tangent features that the new curriculum is already embarking on,” he said
Mr Sinkala said that after the review of the old curriculum, divergent views from various stakeholders can be submitted.
He stated that the sexual reproductive system is one of the components which for the past three (3) years has been inconsistency especially with the divergent views from the church and other organisations who felt left out in terms of consultation during the introduction of the sexual health reproductive system in schools.
“I think this would be the best time for every stakeholder to make contributions on what type of curriculum they would want to see being introduced in our public schools,” he said
Mr Sinkala mention that the appointment of a Director for Curriculum at the Ministry of Education is the first in the structure of the Ministry and the formulation of this position will see to it that there are consultative reviews with the Director which will help in forming a curriculum that meets the aspirations of all Zambians.
Mr Sinkala explained that the failures of the curriculum that was introduced in 2014 where that, end users, the teachers where not retained in the new curriculum, because there were not enough but there was a need for teachers to be retrained in line with the new curriculum so that they could handle subjects in a manner that befits the dictate of the new curriculum but unfortunately that was not done.
“For the end users who are the teachers, they never knew what to do as they started learning the new curriculum at the same time with the pupils which was a challenge,” Mr Sinkala explained
Mr Sinkala stated that before the new curriculum is introduced by the New Dawn Administration, it will be paramount that the end users’ teachers are tamed by providing them with adequate information which will enable them to teach in a manner that would provide or help achieve the provision of offering quality education in schools.
Mr Sinkala cited the need for end users (teachers) to be fully engaged by making them part and parcel of the people who will be consulted rather than just being in the receiving end while being sidelined when conducting curriculum revisions.
“It’s important that teachers across the country are identified and are part of these revisions because these are some of the gaps that had been noted when new curriculum was introduced in 2014,” he cited
He alluded that despite being in an era of ICT and technology in this 21st Century, the major challenge of implementing ICT especially in the rural area is the lack of electricity as 70% of the country is in the rural with a number of schools without access to electricity as they are not connected to the national power grid.
Mr Sinkala has since called on the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) to work in close collaboration with BETUZ in ensuring that schools in the rural areas could have access and connection to the national power grid.
“With REA coming on board, we will see a number of our schools being connected to our national power grid and with that done I think the implementation of ICT will be smooth sailing like it is in other countries,” he said
He added that in terms of the funding, the funding levels where very low for primary schools that they could not afford things such as computers and other fundamentals, but with the new funding system put in place by the New Dawn Government where schools are funded quarterly, funding wouldn’t be a big issue as long as the Government continues on this good trajectory of funding the schools as stipulated.
“Lack of funding was a challenge because the new curriculum demanded that certain materials are procured and we didn’t have enough funds especially in Primary schools,” he said