It has been a long time, almost a year now, since I visited Zimbabwe and what I saw on the ground was shocking and gave me prima facie evidence that the standards of education have gone down. I absolutely understand that learning is mainly controlled by what teachers and students do in the black box, but these people don’t have enough resources. The teacher-pupil ratio has defied the principal laws of meaniful learning which has prompted me to write all the following blogs.
Most departments Of Education in African countries are in pursuit of raising the standards of learning in their respective countries but as long as they exclude teachers and pupils in their planning, there will never be meaningful achievement because learning is controlled by teachers’ and pupils’ classroom activities. Most of the teachers have a ‘mixed bag’ in their classes and this is very important to consider when planning. There are pupils with special educational needs who are sometimes labelled as dull/dofo/mjinga/isibumbe/isiqoqodo/slow learners etc and on the other end there are the gifted and talented pupils.
The first group of students is the one which does not receive enough attention in class because of lack of resources and it is this group that brings down the Maths percentage pass rate of institutions. African governments need to pour a lot of resources in schools; by first training special teachers who will work with pupils with special education needs. If all teachers can adopt the policy that every child matters and apply formative assessment this will improve learning and raises the standards of Maths.
Most Zimbabwean pupils suffer from mathophobia (fear of Maths) and this affects their performance in other subjects but some argue that there is no positive collinear between performance in Maths and performance in other subjects. From my own study and experience most pupils who are very good in Maths are generally confident in other areas of their curriculum. Dyscalculia (a result of visual perceptual deficit of sequencing problems) generally affects some pupils at most schools and most teachers I talked to do not have any solution to this problem. This brings in the issue of individual education plan which is a planning, teaching and reviewing teaching tool. Most teachers are not aware of the existence of kinaesthetic and visual learners within their classes and the needs of these pupils are not addressed.
Most schools in Zimbabwe do not have computers and students still use logarithm tables to do their mathematical calculations and this has affected their Maths results at O Level. Africa will remain inside the black box unless her schools imbed ICT in the learning of Maths.
Next: How To Raise The Standards In Maths