Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe yesterday urged young people to be proud of their country and identity and remain committed to defending the country despite efforts by the nation’s detractors to reverse the progress made since independence. The President said this while addressing over 600 pupils drawn from various schools across the country during a party the First Family hosted for them to celebrate the country’s 35th independence anniversary commemorated today.
“We have expectations,” said President Mugabe. “You must be a self-disciplined learner. You must be honest, reliable and hard working. You must be completely imbued with national pride and identity, standing tall anywhere in the world as a Zimbabwean – a proud inheritor of a land of opportunities, a proud inheritor of a glorious history of struggle, of liberation, a proud victor in spite of the enormous odds pitted against us by our erstwhile colonisers who have imposed sanctions on us.
“We want you to remain in the trenches of our forefathers as torch bearers of this rich Zimbabwean struggle.” President Mugabe said the celebrations of the country’s 35th Independence anniversary were a momentous occasion for both children and adults, adding that Government had done a lot in the education sector since 1980.
“As you will appreciate, our role as Government in these 35 years has been to build a quality education system,” he said. “Indeed, in spite of the multiple challenges in the delivery system over the years, overarching beacons have consistent to ensure that education remains accessible and inclusive. By and large this dual purpose has been achieved time and time again.
“However, we urged the ministry (of Primary and Secondary Education) to implement in full the recommendations of the (Nziramasanga) Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training. I am happy that the matter is now coming to finality through the ongoing curriculum review process.
“The new curriculum will excite all stakeholders as it will transform the education system. Further, the curriculum will be underpinned by a philosophy of education that is rooted in Unhu/Ubuntu.”
Government embarked on the curriculum review to ensure that it does not emphasise academic qualifications as is currently the case, but also focus on practical and vocational skills. “Even as we develop the new technical/vocational and scientific skills, we must remain focused and be Zimbabwean,” said President Mugabe. “The rich heritage we all share through our indigenous languages strengthens our foundation and identity as a people.
“Shared historical moments such as the fact of our Chimurenga experience and its lessons, bid us to look beyond selfish and personal tendencies and instead focus on the national perspective.”
President Mugabe said for the country’s economy to develop, it was incumbent on all stakeholders to contribute towards the fulfilment of that goal. He said it was, therefore, important that everyone played their part in ensuring that children get a proper upbringing.
“All stakeholders have a shared responsibility in your education as parents, communities, industries, churches, teachers and other education partners,” said President Mugabe. Particularly important is the role of parents in the education of their children. As you know, your parents must provide for your sustenance, things like food, health, shelter and education. It is important that you do not take these parental efforts for granted. So, we ask you to please listen to your parents.” President Mugabe challenged children to play a part in their education, saying as future leaders of the country they had a right to be heard.
“It is, therefore, essential that each one of you has the responsibility to play your part,” he said. “We expect you to contribute your own ideas to discussions on what affects you as the future leaders of our country. We also expect you to show initiative, do your assignments on time, study, participate in sport, arts and culture and also perform your age-appropriate tasks at home.”
President Mugabe thanked teachers for the hard work they do and promised that Government will continue to look at ways of improving their welfare.
“The teachers, I want to say thank you for all you have done over the years by raising the standards of our education system,” he said. “Continue the good work, continue on the right path, the path of hard work, the path of a moral teacher, the path of a loving teacher and the path of a teacher who regards himself as the other parent of the child.
“We are aware that our conditions of service have not been up to date, we would like to improve them and we will continue to improve them. Be rest assured that we have your conditions of service in mind and we will definitely continue to address them.”
Zimbabwe marks its 35th independence anniversary today in various parts of the country, with the main event being at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.