Finland starts an education revolution
Since time immemorial, the education system has been stagnant in Zimbabwe. Refusing to conform to the evolving socio economic demands of the environment. As our colonisers brought their curriculum to us, we thought we knew better when we attained our independence. We were too pompous to realise that with freedom comes with it a responsibility. A responsibility to dare to dream and to take risks for the upliftment of a nation. Unfortunately, we were too comfortable and preoccupied with our victory dance from the clutches of our colonial masters to realise that we had a long journey ahead and one we had to put ourselves to task to achieve.
Finland has decided to do away with all the subjects that children were taught in schools and start afresh with relevant and contemporary subjects that fit in the demands of the evolving global market. They realised that the education system that they had so heavily relied on was deeply entrenched in what had now proved over the years to be irrelevant to the demands of the out of school environment. Such a move for reform could not be applauded any greatly and is the first of its kind that shall usher in an unconventional mechanism of schooling.
Finland’s plan is to replace the teaching of classic school subjects such as History or English with much broader, cross cutting topics. However, they are not totally discarding subjects like Mathematics, History, Arts and Music. They have made it a reform point to include broader topics such as European Union, Community and Climate change, 100 years of Finland’s independence etc. These are purported to bring a multi-facetted approach to subjects like language, geography, sciences and economics.
Zimbabwe has been using the same curriculum in both primary and secondary schools since the Smith regime. It has been 36 years but we still see schools teaching children about the thorax of an ant which may be misplaced in the contemporary setting. The contemporary setting which has become more entrepreneur based than anything. Yes, we have heard talks of reviewing of the education system but have noticed that the tangible feedback that we have received is lagging behind. Not only are teachers being overwhelmed with squeezing in new subjects especially at primary school level but the time remains stagnant. Talk about expecting nothing short of a miracle from these teachers. The curriculum is ballooning instead of it being downsized to contain only subjects that are relevant to the evolving environment.
The review of the current education curriculum in Zimbabwe is meant to prepare graduates to be endowed with the following skills set i.e. critical thinking, problem solving abilities, leadership skills, team building and technological skills. This move is commendable because we have seen that year in year out many tertiary institutions are churning out graduates whose knowledge seems to be misplaced in the evolving socio economic environment. And also this move should cultivate a culture of creativity in students so that they harness the entrepreneurial skills they have as the global village has become more about contestation of creative business ideas.
This challenge is not constricted to primary and secondary schools only but is extended to tertiary institutions where we see so many graduates struggling to get their proper footing in the employment world with degrees and diplomas that are just paper light and offer no place for them in the current socio economic environment. The curriculum was taken as is from being deliberately designed by the colonial masters in such a way that there was no room for creativity but you were conditioned to thrive to be best employee the master could have. This has crippled us to be dependent and not self-reliant.
So Zimbabwe to borrow a leaf from Finland?