BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Labour unions for teachers have raised alarm over ordinary members of the community who are demanding cash from desperate pupils to offer assistance on the newly-adopted Continuous Assessment Learning Activity (Cala) research.
Under Cala, pupils are supposed to carry out projects and tasks in schools, which will constitute 30% of their coursework for the final examination under the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) for each subject.
Due to limited time to complete the syllabi and complete the Cala projects, some Zimsec 2021 candidates are seeking assistance from ordinary community members, forcing parents to fork out between US$10 and $20 to pay for the services.
Teachers objected to the implementation of the programme, arguing that it was unnecessarily disrupting pupils’ learning in schools when they had limited time to complete the syllabi after the COVID-19 disruptions.
They said pupils were being forced to go into communities as part of the Cala research, where they mingled with individuals from various backgrounds, risking contracting COVID-19.
“A group of people have emerged that demand US$10 for Grade 7 research and US$20 for secondary school Cala projects. The process has been marred with confusion because of limited time,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said.
“The whole essence of Cala is the blending of theory and practical experience. But because of limited time, students have embarked on hiring other people and unemployed teachers to do this for them. Are we assessing pupils? Government must listen.”
Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Edgar Moyo told NewsDay recently that Cala was a very important assessment tool for the new competence-based curriculum which could not be withdrawn.
Zimbabwe Teachers National Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo said if government was adamant on enforcing Cala, it should at least consider to pardon the candidates who were struggling to catch up with the syllabi.
“Students are hard pressed as they are struggling to catch up with their unfinished syllabus while at the same time battling with the newly-introduced Calas which are still little known even to their own teachers,” he said.
Nyawo recommended that Cala be suspended for this year’s examination classes.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Masaraure described Cala implementation in schools as chaotic.
“The Cala initiative is the worst nightmare being endured by learners and teachers,” he said. “The results for this year won’t be a true reflection of learners’ exit profile, but a big lie to mask the crisis in the education sector.”
The education curriculum requires learners to carry out three Cala components per learning area and the first was due for submission on September 24, 2021.