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Zimbabwe makes ECD compulsory

by Staff reporter
14 Feb 2024 at 04:38hrs | Views
It will now be mandatory for all children to enrol in early childhood development classes at four years, with the new Zimbabwe Early Learners Policy (ZELP) now extending primary education to nine years with the new early foundation.

ZELP seeks to entrench foundational literacy and numeracy which will give impetus for children to excel better as they progress along the education value chain.

This is aimed at laying a solid foundation for the country's human capital development in line with the National Development Strategy 1.

The policy is anchored on five pillars including research and innovation, legal and policy framework, human capital development and governance.

It will push for greater involvement of parents in the education of their children starting at ECD level. This is both a psychological and technical imperative for the balanced development of children.

It will also use the play and learn technique to harness children's creative ability, help identify and nurture their talent at an early stage.

Government expects to enrich the quality of children coming out of the education system and prime them for the evolving world, which is now anchored on technology and innovation.

It also engenders coordination of Government departments and ministries which were previously fragmented in contributing towards the development of children.

Previously, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would provide education while the Ministry of Health and Child Care would attend to the child's health needs and the Department of Social Welfare would also provide services separately. The policy will breakdown the barriers to collaboration and ensure seamless cooperation in the effective development of a child.

Speaking at the launch of ZELP, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Angeline Gata said the policy will compel parents and guardians to take all children to ECD on reaching four years. "ZELP will promote parental involvement in the education of children starting at ECD level," explained the Deputy Minister.

"All children should go for ECD and it is not going to be optional. The policy makes it mandatory and it is the obligation of every parent and guardian to ensure that children go for ECD. This will strengthen foundational learning as building blocks for later development."

The policy also looked at emergency strategies related to climate change, pandemics and other exigencies to ensure teaching and learning continued unhindered.

This might include use of digital technologies, radios and the packaging of lessons on flash drives.

Critical outputs of the policy include raising citizens that were guided by values of respect and care, social cohesion and sensitivity to diversity, creativity and scientific enquiry, honesty and integrity, gender sensitivity, tolerance and empathy, lifelong learning, commitment and hardwork among others.

The policy seeks to develop cognitive, linguistic, physical wellbeing and protection of the child. It amplifies President Mnangagwa's call for inclusive development which leaves no one and no place behind in the provision of education especially in marginalised communities.

Unicef education specialist Ms Clara Mulamba said the policy was critical and promoting and consolidating the country's education system which has constantly seen it being counted among the best in Africa and beyond.

"The policy needs to be supported so that it is fully implemented for the benefit and development of children," said Ms Mulamba. "As Unicef we have been supporting the country's education system and we will continue to support the implementation of this policy for the realisation of its noble objectives."

Further explaining the expected impact of ZELP, Primary and Secondary Education publicity director Mr Taungana Ndoro said the policy would help reduce low pass rates at Ordinary Level.

"We have pass rates of as low as 40 percent at O-Level but you realise that the pass rate at A-Level is around 95 percent because those who have poor literacy and numeracy are screened at O-Level making it easier to pass as they progress," said Mr Ndoro.

Source - The Herald
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