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Reinstate ZJC children's literature in English

30 Apr 2020 at 11:43hrs | Views
ENCOURAGED by the open platform characterising the amendment of the old school curriculum, allow me space to share my concerns with readers and stakeholders about the discontinuation of the teaching of Literature in English at Zimbabwe Junior Certificate (ZJC) level (Forms 1 and 2), which runs into almost beyond two decades.

Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation needs new energy. Suggestively, the reason why ZJC children's literature in English has not been restored up to now after a long break cannot be aptly justified by lack of financial muscle. It coincidentally and conspicuously ceased to be taught compulsorily when ZJC public examinations were scraped off.

All other subjects survived. It is notable that the new curriculum drafting and implementation exercise had too many clustered and intertwined issues to hammer out and as such this pertinent issue hid its face from glaring reality. Far from blaming anyone, it is a fact of life that the old curriculum put weighty emphasis on examination competence as opposed to social versatility and work-life performance in the school leavers.

This dilemma is still lingering in our midst and still needs to be exorcised; technically, tactfully and methodically. I personally feel it is the right time to disentangle this outstanding logjam with special reference to this proposal to reinstate ZJC children's literature in English. There are a number of advantages that feed from this inspiration. At the same time, the idea collocates and dovetails precisely with the futuristic vision of tethering the next generations to the norms and values of the society whose propriety rests upon us.

Firstly, it is a big credit that Zimbabwe now boasts of hordes of graduate teachers of English, some of whom are not being fully utilised in schools. These teachers can reliably be utilised as conduit voices for the rich fire-side village story or the ghetto tale, which the smokescreen of modernity is rapidly fossilising into oblivion. All this seems to point out that the cost of reintroducing literature is minimal and limited.

At ZJC, the subject is done by the whole country because at that stage there are no foisted options so each student will enjoy an edifying taste of it. This cannot be applied at Ordinary and Advanced levels therefore making it costeffective if implemented at ZJC. On the other hand, the issue of difficulties in fitting the subject on the timetable is flimsy since it can easily suck one language period per week without any setbacks. After all, teaching literature presents a

good platform and interface conducive to buttress and support language skills. The undeniable advantage is that the language of literature carries classified social themes that children grapple with every day.

Notably, local universities and teacher's colleges have strategically streamlined their English literature courses to coincide with set books that are used in local schools. This is currently happening mainly with Advanced level and it is a well-contrived idea.

Children's literature demanded at ZJC is one of the components taught in these colleges and universities and their acquiescence to this national cause is apparent. As it were, taking the said advantages into account, teaching literature at ZJC must not be subjected to the sole yardstick of finance for setting examination, printing and subsequent marking. The overriding index of judgment should be based on how the crosscutting themes and issues handled in the subject are able to ground and prop-up young students in matters concerning social literacy and life equations.

School literature can help the boys and girls to create discretionary mechanism to sift and

filter barriers to social safety and purity. At another level, many humanitarian, social and philanthropic organisations have delved on mitigating on themes that range from child abuse, child rights, street-kids, school dropouts, diseases, growing up, entrepreneurship, family-hood, environmental degradation and many others.

The moral and social compass will not miss its wholesome bearing with such concerted effort. Finally, the main issue is that to teach or not to teach literature at ZJC, our society is a bound and replete with testimonies of children registered as victims of man-made vices who could not scale the hurdles of the university of life that the subject seeks to interrogate.

Literature equips students with social skills to navigate the terrains of life. We therefore need to examine the toll of not teaching it. Ideally, in the absence of fiscal resources to administer public examinations; the pragmatic choice could be to allow social experience to test the learners after they have been taught.

Patrick katsaura Linguist, educationist and consuLtant -

Source - the independent
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