Friday, February 08, 2013

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABE) Coltart making a bad situation worse

COMMENT - This is nothing short of sabotage.

Coltart making a bad situation worse
07/02/2013 00:00:00
by Prof Jonathan Moyo, MP

WHILE Zimbabweans are still struggling to digest the appalling news that 81,6 percent of the 172,698 pupils who took Zimsec’s “O” Level examinations in 2012 failed to pass at least five subjects with a grade of “C” or better with only 31,767 managing to succeed, resulting in a pass rate of 18,4 percent, the embattled Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture—David Coltart—has typically proffered four spurious and emotive explanations of this shockingly high failure rate thereby scandalously making the bad situation worse.

In proffering his explanation in a self-indulgent press statement issued on Wednesday, Coltart unashamedly and arrogantly claimed that “the decline in the pass rate is an indication that Zimsec have followed my instruction that standards are to be maintained so that we have an accurate idea of the health of our education system”.

What does this mean? Simply put, Coltart is boldly and proudly declaring to all and sundry that the 81,6 percent figure of the pupils who failed to get at least five subjects with a grade of “C” or better is an expression of a direct instruction he gave to Zimsec to deliberately lower the pass rate and thus raise the failure rate so that “standards are maintained” in order to “have an accurate idea of the health of our education system”.

One does not have to like or dislike Coltart’s nonsense about education to understand that whether a child fails or passes an “O” Level subject should not, cannot and must not be subject to a political instruction to Zimsec from the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture. Passing or failing a Zimsec examination must necessarily and therefore only reflect the child’s examination performance in terms of objective criteria which is academic and professional without any political grounding of the kind sought by Coltart through his illegal instruction to Zimsec.

In the circumstances, the public and shameless admission by Coltart that the low pass rate “is an indication that Zimsec have followed my (Coltart’s) instruction” is not just scandalous in the extreme but it is also manifestly corrupt, unlawful and warrants an urgent and transparent criminal investigation of both Coltart and Zimsec whom he says followed his illegal instruction.

As if unaware of his own scandalous and criminal explanation that the unsettlingly high 2012 failure rate was a direct result of his illegal instruction to Zimsec, Coltart claimed in his Wednesday press statement that the low pass rate “is primarily in my view a reflection of the extreme crisis in education experienced between approximately 2005 and 2009 when thousands of teachers left the service and many teaching days were lost”.

While it is of course true and thus undeniable that the education sector took a battering between 2005 and 2009 when the effects of Western illegal economic sanctions combined with the hyperinflationary consequences of excessive quantitative easing otherwise known as “money printing”, Coltart’s reference to this truth explains why the high 2012 failure rate in “O” Level examinations is naively opportunistic.

It is hopeless for Coltart to, on the one hand, boast that the high failure rate is “an indication that Zimsec have followed” his instruction and, on the other hand, for him to claim that the same rate is “a reflection of the extreme crisis in education experienced between 2005 and 2009”.

The two statements from one and the same mouth contradict each other unless Coltart’s proposition is that his instruction for Zimsec to effectively lower the pass rate and increase the failure rate was made to justify his political view that education went through an extreme crisis between 2005 and 2009.

In any event, Coltart has been responsible for education as Minister since 2009 and the legitimate public expectation is that he should have attended to the setbacks which the education sector suffered between 2005 and 2009 as a matter of urgency and that by now the public should be seeing positive results from his interventions. But, alas, the evidence in the air shows that Coltart has been playing dirty politics with the critical education sector exemplified by his scandalous, corrupt and criminal instruction to Zimsec which must be investigated sooner rather than later in the national interest and to save education from Coltart’s very dangerous games.

Not satisfied that his criminal instruction to Zimsec to raise the failure rate in “O” Level examinations in order to corruptly justify his political view that the poor rate is a reflection of the “extreme crisis in education between 2005 and 2009” in the vain hope of creating a false 2013 election issue, Coltart proffered a third and quite inane explanation of the low pass rate claiming that, “another reason for the decline maybe the increase in numbers of children writing which can also result in a decline in the pass rate”.

This is an inane explanation whose illogical premise is that the higher the number of pupils taking the Zimsec “O” Level examinations the higher the number of failures. But this is pure and utter nonsense. For example, in 2010 the pass rate was better than the 2012 rate at 16,5 percent when 229,522 pupils sat the Zimsec “O” Level examinations compared to the 172,698 who took it last year. And in 2009 only 87,201 were examined yet the pass rate of 19,33 percent was not very different from the 2012 rate of 18,4 percent involving 172,698 pupils.

As such, anyone who believes Coltart’s assertion that “the increase in numbers of children writing the examination results in a decline in the pass rate” will sadly believe anything. Coltart’s assertion is political gibberish not supported by any sustainable empirical evidence from anywhere in the world. The cryptic message of his assertion which was the order of the day in Rhodesia is that “the majority must be failed by design (similar to Coltart’s instruction to Zimsec) in order for the few to get through so as for them not to challenge and swell the numbers of the learned in the racialised global scheme of things”.

Zimbabweans will recall that from the first day as Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Coltart has been irrationally determined to disprove a UNDP 2009 study which showed that Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa ahead of Tunisia at 92%. Coltart’s illegal instruction to Zimsec to deliberately lower the pass rate in the spurious name of “maintaining standards” has all the political trappings of a self-fulfilling prophecy with Rhodesian echoes.

Coltart’s cat comes out of the bag with his fourth explanation for the high 81,6 failure rate in the 2012 “O” Level Zimsec examinations about which he said the following in his Press Statement issued on Wednesday:

“There is one other major factor to consider — our O Levels (sic.) are primarily academically oriented whereas many children are more practically oriented. This was a flaw recognised by the Nziramazanga (sic.) Commission in 1999 which we are now seeking to address through the programme of comprehensive review and reform of our curriculum which is now under way”.

Coltart’s insulting and extremely objectionable proclamation is a pregnant disclosure which should be unpacked by the permanent officials in the service of our national education system beyond this commentary because through his telling disclosure Coltart has made clear his dangerous intentions whose damage to our knowledge industry would be incalculable if his agenda is allowed to prevail beyond his tenure in the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.

To put it mildly Coltart, like the architects of Rhodesian racist education before him, is basically saying that blacks have no academic orientation and cannot be taught through mind-based pedagogy that is cerebral or academic but are rather better taught through observational or so-called practical pedagogy that is based on the “monkey-see-monkey-do” colonial and UDI modules.

The fact that Coltart opportunistically cites the findings of the 1999 Nziramasanga Commission in support of his Rhodesian position whose objectives are the opposite of the goals of that Commission is enough to prove his sinister and unacceptable agenda.

Anyone who is familiar with the goings on in the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture these days of the Inclusive Government will readily attest to the fact that the last four years in that ministry have seen a spirited and determined onslaught against the findings and recommendations of the Nziramasanga Commission as a benchmark for reforming the education sector.

Under Coltart, the Nziramasanga Commission has been turned into a dirty phrase which has been replaced by the so-called “Education Transition Trust” whose vision of education in Zimbabwe doves tails neatly with the Rhodesian vision whose thrust was that blacks should be taught vocational skills and trained to be artisans and do things like carpentry allegedly because they are not academically oriented.

Fortunately, we know for a fact that this is just garbage given the phenomenal strides that Zimbabwe has made in education since independence in 1980. An overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans are without doubt academically oriented and the Nziramasanga Commission acknowledged this fact whose evidence is everywhere nationally and in the Diaspora while noting that, like elsewhere around the world, there is a significant few who are not so-oriented and whose needs for vocational skills should be catered for by our system of education.

It is mischievous for Coltart to seek to falsify the record by giving the false impression that the Nziramasanga Commission concluded that the majority of Zimbabwean pupils are not academically oriented.

Given the foregoing, if Coltart imagines that he will use his impending exit not just from his ministry but also from Welshman Ncube’s MDC and indeed from Zimbabwe on his way to some international NGO to distort our education infrastructure by among other things corrupting Zimsec through criminal instructions, then he needs to think again because Zimbabwe will never be a colony, again. Never!

Professor Jonathan Moyo is MP for Tsholotsho North (Zanu PF) and a former Minister of Information

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