From CALA to School Based Continuous Assessment- the changing dynamics of Zimbabwean Education.

Years back primary schools only had four subjects; English, Maths Ndebele and Content. 2014 marked a new era for primary students as Agriculture became mandatory. This marked a new era in terms of primary education and the worst or maybe the best was yet to come in 2021 – Continuous Assessment Learning Activities (CALA). On paper CALA is or was a great way for students to develop their research and practical skills but at what cost? Parents have had to folk out USD$20 if not more so that their children could have their work done.

However, CALA has been replaced with the new School Based Projects and the one is yet to see the new advantages and disadvantages of this change. Due to CALA students in primary schools had 27 learning areas which posed as challenge especially for those in rural areas. Network is challenge for most rural areas in Zimbabwe and with CALA you had to be friends with the internet. Not only that but the country already experiences severe power cuts in urban areas so what more in rural areas since Most of the work had to be printed. Which once again brings us to the point of how much of pain CALA was.

Evolution of Zimbabwean Education
Evolution of Zimbabwean Education
Challenges with CALA

Education might be considered affordable for primary students but as much as CALA was meant to educate and nurture students research skills, students ended up paying people to do their work. It was all about handing in the work and getting the 30% for exams. So, it might be safe to say that if one were to ask students what they learnt with CALA it would be difficult to get one student who actually enjoyed doing the work.

The New school based projects will have primary students with compulsory six learning areas whilst form 1 to four pupils will have five learning areas. Nothing much has been said about what will be in these learning areas since CALA covered a wide range of topics and subjects such as heritage studies, Ndebele, Science, Visual Performing arts, Information Communication Technologies and many more. Different from Content right? As much as this was meant to be a good thing and educate students on various topics such as their Heritage, Science and ICT not much thought was put into how it would be implemented so as to accommodate everyone.

Dawn of a A New Era?

Change is not a bad thing and students could not continue learning four subjects especially in this technological era but more thought also has to be put into accommodating each and every learner. Not all students can afford the staff that comes with digital change. The digital era brings about the use of computers, Wifi, cellphones and smart tablets. Parents can be heard complaining about having to share their cellphones with their children and how expensive data is. Not only that, it seemed that CALA was more of parents job than that of the student or the teacher. It was parents who did the research or paid for it. If one browses on social media especially Facebook parents are seen complaining about how they now have to do a teacher’s job whilst they pay full fees. The whole point of education is to gain both practical and theoretical skills that one can use in the real world.

Awaiting the Future

As the country awaits more information on the school based projects one hopes that the government and Ministry will this time put into consideration the challenges that students and parents face especially when it comes to data. Zimbabwe is one of the countries with most expensive data tariffs in Africa and education is not about just getting marks. It is about gaining knowledge that will help students navigate the real world in the future. So be it CALA or School based projects the goal is to be educated enough to be able to make a living and transfer the knowledge and skills to future generations for the betterment of our country and economy.

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