Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Vocationalization of Secondary Schools: Implementation Reality or Fallacy?

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Vocationalization of Secondary Schools: Implementation Reality or Fallacy?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction and Background

Commissions of Inquiry into educational matters in general and the curriculum in particular, especially vocationalising, have a long history in Zimbabwe. It has been observed that if these commissions' recommendations were implemented, the present education system would be quite different. A brief account of these commissions would help explain the point.

The Frank Tate commission of 1929 called for a compulsory manual and practical curriculum, a policy which remained in practice in European schools until 1980. Six years later in 1935, the Fox Commission opposed a mere academic secondary curriculum with less practical skills for European children and recommended a curriculum with more than one track of learning. The Kerr Commission of 1952, also recognized the need to give skills to African children. The recommendation was however given a lukewarm treatment. The judges Commission of 1963 recommended Vocational and Technical Education for African schools but the recommendation was diluted into F2 secondary school system in 1966. This reform introduced a practical subject curriculum which ran parallel with the academic and more prestigious Fl system. This system was responsible for the development of negative attitudes towards practical subjects. Consequently, the F2 schools were phased out at independence and these schools were converted into conventional Fl Schools. The golden opportunity to develop Vocational and Technical education using resources that had been put in place was abandoned. The Lewis Taylor Committee (1974) also recommended that imparting of skills be part of the general education for all.

The recommendations by the pre-independence commissions and committee were not implemented except in schools for white children. At the attainment of independence in 1980, it was therefore, necessary to review the education system but no commission was set up. Policy makers set up task forces as a strategy to improve education but these did not take ideas from the general populace. It was at this time that the Zimbabwean government embarked on reforms which necessitated the institution of the démocratisation of education and training. The policy ushered in expansive and extensive provision of education which necessitated a comprehensive review of the system to check on its relevancy. This then led to the setting up of the Nziramasanga Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training [ CIET] in January 1998.

The commission among other Terms of Reference (TOR) was to inquire into and report upon the inherited education system as to relevance, quality and orientation in a rapidly changing socio-economic environment.

Whilst inquiring into this broad issue from the Zimbabwean people, the commission noted that:

* the current secondary education was academically good but did not cater for the majority of the students, neither did it prepare them for the skills needed in the world of work.

* people wondered what the use of an ?' or A' Level certificate was if it did not prepare students for work.

* our secondary education was found to be a waste of time for the majority of our students as it handled them as if they all would end up doing ?' Level and university studies.

* the country was still giving, to all secondary students, an old British-type education which captains of commerce and industry thought created a missing link between the school system and employment sector. Chinoona (2006) also noted that colleges and the employment sector could absorb not more than 20% of the school leavers since the majority of them lacked the necessary skills.

* this resulted in frustration and a sense of failure in students as even some who got five ?' Levels got equally frustrated because they had no marketable skills. There will not be any employment for them yet the pupils are not educated in commercial practice for self-employment and self reliance. …

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