Wednesday, February 06, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Coltart: playing cricket with education

Coltart: playing cricket with education
05/02/2013 00:00:00
by Simba Chakanyuka

O’ LEVEL results released on Monday – showing a frightening 81,6 percent of children who sat exams last November failing – are quite alarming by any measure. Sports, Education and Culture Minister David Coltart has earned rave reviews over perceived gains in the education sector since he took over in 2009, but these figures tell their own story. The A’ Level results released last month showed a two percentage point drop from the 2011 pass rate.

It can be argued that this is probably the worst crisis facing Zimbabwe – perhaps only matched by a sick health delivery system and unemployment. So, you would expect a minister confronted by such a crisis to be calling emergency meetings with the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC), regional directors, headmasters and consulting ordinary teachers on how to pull together out of this mess.

But no, the minister’s mind is elsewhere: cricket. Like a playful student, Coltart appears more at home stoking racism fires in cricket than discussing the needs of our teachers, pupils and parents – the three pillars of a successful education system.

Coltart will not get away with calling black students dunderheads [“Our O’ Levels are primarily academically orientated whereas many children are more practically orientated”]. Or blaming the education failures on the economic crisis of 2005-2009. We are long past that. A Form 1 pupil in 2009 when he took over is among the 141,000 now sitting at home contemplating a bleak future after getting their results slip from ZIMSEC on Monday.

I will leave the education crisis to others to dissect; it is the minister’s pet subject – cricket – to which I want to return.

After a patently racist directive which sought to re-establish cricket as a white sport, setting back years of racial rationalisation founded on producing young and competent black cricketers from school level and nurturing them through to the top, Coltart made a new intervention on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe Cricket announced that batting coach Grant Flower, bowling coach Heath Streak and fitness trainer Lorraine Chivandire would be staying behind when the national team tours the West Indies later this month.

The technical change, as the ZC explained, was informed by a desire to accommodate more touring players as the tour will feature three ODIs, two Twenty20 Internationals and two Tests.

Critically, media reports suggest financial constraints could also be a factor in the decision.

Coltart took to Facebook to question the ZC move – with a helping hand from a curious statement from skipper Brendan Taylor – claiming that the players had not been consulted.

It is well and good if some still want to give the man the benefit of doubt. But if his meddling in cricket – which is not new by the way – does not do so much as raise your eyebrow, then you cannot be in the land of the living.

It has been said, and if it has been denied I have yet to see such a denial, that Coltart was behind the black armband protest by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga during the 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa to mourn the “death of democracy in Zimbabwe”.

Subsequent to that, white players like Streak and the Flower brothers – joined by their lackey in the form of Olonga – quit the national team. In part, they were unhappy with a deliberate decision by Zimbabwe Cricket under the leadership of chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute to push for the promotion of competent black players to the senior team structure.

Coltart later travelled the world lobbying Test playing nations – in particular England, New Zealand and Australia – not to tour Zimbabwe.

The sum total of his and the actions of the white deserters, led by Heath Streak, was that Zimbabwe Cricket suffered. No-one would tour the country. Without television money, debt piled up – hardly a unique problem in sport but one Coltart, Streak and others cannot now project as Chingoka and Bvute’s doing.

When the ZC is taking austerity measures by rightsizing the travelling party to the West Indies, Coltart’s protests on behalf of his mates ring hollow when he is very much part of the problem.

It was an act of magnanimity by Chingoka and Bvute that they extended an olive branch to deserters like Streak and Flower – the same people Coltart now demands to be consulted over when they are excluded, albeit temporarily.

Is it necessary for Coltart to be throwing his Rhodesian weight around on cricket fields when other crises elsewhere demand his immediate attention, not least education and the non-performing football team? Why cricket?

Zimbabwe Cricket has called a stakeholder conference for late March to deal with racism in cricket. It should not be one where ZC throws in the towel to an obdurate racist minority stuck in a 1970s time warp.

This is no time for surrender. Coltart and his ilk who find representation in the current playing and coaching staff should be left in no doubt that the New Zimbabwe train is hurtling along full steam ahead, they can get off here if they can’t handle the bumps.

Simba Chakanyuka is an avid cricket fan. He can be contacted on e-mail: chakanyukasimba@gmail.com

COMMENT

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Zhenharo Nepfuti

Its obvious that the allocation of Ministers by the MDC was completely void of any desire to get results. It was more to do with just taking ministries away from Zanu PF. But as is just too obvious now. this party realised too late that their lack of strategy would soon be badly exposed. Ever since they came into government, which ministry, or department showed any signs of progress. Even city councils are all way beyond redenption all because of mere visitation by these guys. David Coldheart"s recent disgusting discharges regarding Cricket was a desperate bid to divert attention from the impending disasterous results in the form of :O: and A-Level results.His assumption of his post as the Minister of fducation had nothing to do with the improvement of the system. We all know what the educational policy in Rhodesia was like. At what point then did he becone interested in the quality of education for Blacks? The amount of effort he has put in meddling with the affairs of cricket will never be matched in education. How many people did he want to improve if at all his ill advised directives were to be adopted? Yet education affects the whole nation, he would prefer show that he is THE minister when it comes to cricket while shouting like a mere onlooker when it comes to education. I hope the people will vote wisely this year and get rid of all the dead wood in the issues of governance.
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tendax

Vakuru marasika apa
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ProudZimbabwean

Tinovamamisa ma born and bred racists aTsvangirai awa!!


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