Tafadzwa Ndlovu Herald Reporter
Government says it will soon introduce science subjects at primary school level to inspire and encourage young people to take interest in scientific issues at an early age.
Speaking during a donation of books, stationery and bicycles by the Jokonya Trust to Nhidza primary school in Chivhu recently, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said the move will help to support the development of talents in sciences at primary schools.
“In primary schools we are now introducing science kits,” he said.
“Previously some were questioning why we need to have science subjects at primary level. We are saying science must begin at primary school so that our children can have the basic practical side of subjects, it’s not science alone but also agricultural studies will begin at primary school.”
The new curriculum, he said, enabled children to learn both theory and practicals to motivate them to take an active interest in sciences.
Dr Dokora said his ministry was holding discussions with Iran to seek the Islamic country’s support to develop science kits for distribution.
“We are in conversation with the Iranians so that we are able to develop our own science kit. For now we have an opportunity to source those kits from their country to begin with, but we must assemble them here so that we are able to improve our own skills,” he said.
He said his ministry was committed to the training of science teachers under the Teacher Capacity Programme Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to help the implementation process of science subjects in primary schools.
The STEM programme aims to improve science education through training of teachers, among other initiatives. Dr Dokora said his ministry had increased the budget for the programme to $5 million from $3 million.
“We now have 2 500 teachers who have been accepted for programmes in universities out of the 16 500 who applied,” he said.
“The funds will be used to develop the science teachers’ skills from diploma level up to PhD level. We want our teachers to be able to impart scientific knowledge to our children in primary schools.”
Prominent educationist and former Cabinet Minister Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu hailed the initiative saying it was long overdue.
“I was in conversation with Dr Dokora recently when he highlighted to me what his ministry was doing prior to the new curriculum. Introducing sciences is a very welcome idea because if our children start this at an early stage they will perform better at a higher level,” he said.
However, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe thought differently about the proposal.
“The most important thing is to note that not every student will become a scientist. Let us be sure of what we want to achieve in our education sector.
“Teachers must be consulted in this process as pupils at primary school levels are already burdened by doing so many subjects at their level. For instance a Grade Four pupil is studying 15 subjects including Mathematics, English, Content, Shona, Environmental Science, Agriculture, Religious Education and History. Then you wonder what is it all that for?” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Jokonya Trust, daughter of the late Cabinet minister and national hero Ambassador Dr Tichaona Jokonya, Dr Chiedza Jokonya now based in the United States, said she was committed to assisting Zimbabwe.
“We started this trust in honour of our father and we will continue helping the less privileged,” she said.
“We will continue to support them in every way possible.”