PARENTS who attended the two-day Continuous Assessment Learning Activities (CALA) curriculum review consultation meetings conducted by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education have said the CALA must be scrapped as they make learning difficult for pupils.
The curriculum review exercise started on Monday with players in the education sector conducting consultations.
On Tuesday, parents and guardians were roped in to air their views on the CALA.
They said CALA must be removed as a significant number of learners come from disadvantaged families and struggle to complete the required activities.
Some said they are more difficult for learners from remote areas as they face network challenges and do not have access to the internet.
Mrs Patricia Manzini, who has three children at Thomas Rudland Primary School in Bulawayo,said CALA are very expensive.
She said this was now compromising the education of disadvantaged learners.
“As it is, we don’t have money for something as basic as bread and everyone can see the situation in the country right now.
CALA requires learners to research and print out different materials which will be needed for filing.
“It honestly becomes a lot and guardians choose things that seem to be more important like food other than paying money for these papers that need to be printed,” said Mrs Manzini.
Another parent, Mrs Sophia Musinazano, said not only were CALA problematic for pupils in rural areas who face connectivity challenges to research on their projects but they were also difficult for those living in urban areas as they also face financial challenges when carrying out their projects.
She said as a result, learners lose the 30 percent they would have earned had they studied on their own and prepared for examinations.
“If the Government wants to do this, they should put up unlimited WiFi at schools and allow all learners to go with their cellphones to school. That way, they will all be able to get their work done.
“Those in rural areas would need to have network boosters installed so that they can also benefit. If that can’t be done then the CALAs should be removed,” said Mrs Musinazano.
Veteran educationist Benny Moyo said CALA was expensive and wasteful and created a digital devide between the rich and the poor.
“The CALA that Government introduced is expensive, wasteful and the time spent on it does not suit the 30 percent waiting on it,” he said. “It emphasises on the digital divide between the rich and poor. Between rich and poor schools, between urban schools and country schools that have no electricity and let alone internet connectivity.”
He said it puts burden on the parents and educators with unnecessary pressure.
The competence-based curriculum is being reviewed after its first seven-year cycle came to an end last year following its introduction in 2015.
The curriculum is aimed at tooling pupils with skills to survive in the 21st century that is technologically driven.
In an interview, educationist and Faculty of Science and Technology Education executive dean at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Professor Lwazi Sibanda said the competence-based curriculum has ushered in a generation of skilled learners, who do not just memorise theories just to pass their examinations.
She said in reviewing the curriculum, the education sector needs to address the shortcomings that come with CALA.
“The CALA issue needs to be addressed because you will find that the parents are the ones that are doing the assignments instead of the learners. The learners are the ones who are supposed to be doing that by themselves,” she said.
“The issue of continuous assessment should be clearly spelt out unlike what we are seeing now. Parents and guardians are complaining, it’s as if they are the ones who are learning. Even in the streets there are some placards where individuals will be advertising that they do CALA assignments.”
Prof Sibanda said CALA should enhance pupils’ ingenuity but this cannot be realised if parents and guardians are the ones doing the assignments.
She said curriculum reviews are necessary to weigh intended targets against outcomes while aligning with global trends.
“The curriculum review is important so that as a nation we might follow global trends in education. Education is dynamic, not static. So, we need to keep it in line with global trends so that our learners acquire necessary skills that will help them in life,” she said.
“The good thing that has been brought about by the curriculum is the hands-on approach. The competence-based curriculum speaks to competencies learners have when they leave school. It encourages learners to have skills unlike in the previous situation where pupils were expected to cram theories.”
Prof Sibanda said the stakeholder consultations will enable the ministry to listen to all the players that are involved in education.