BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
STUDENTS at primary and secondary schools allegedly paid bribes ranging from US$10 to US$20 to teachers to help them do the controversial Continuous Assessment Learning Activities (CALA) module, NewsDay has learnt.
CALA was introduced this year and constitutes 30% of the total examination marks for Grade Seven, Ordinary and Advanced Level students.
It requires learners to perform, demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency of the subject concerned.
The module demands that students apply what they learnt in context through activities.
Grade 7, Form 4 and Form 6 learners were forced to do CALA after an order to schools by Primary and Secondary Education secretary Tumisang Thabela despite that learning was affected by long breaks induced by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Teachers’ unions campaigned for CALA to be suspended to no avail.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou yesterday told Parliament that some work submitted by students for CALA was actually done for them by other people for a fee.
“There has been an emergence of some people overnight claiming that there are specialists ready to do CALA for students,” he said.
“So we are seeing the submission of certain CALA projects, not necessarily originating from students because they were hard-pressed.
“Those with access to money ended up buying people (including teachers) to do it for them, and so we would not be assessing the students’ work but an academic mercenary’s work.”
Zhou added: “The cost for a primary school project is US$10. Primary pupils are doing three projects per subject area, and with six subject areas, they have to do 18 projects in all.
“Secondary pupils’ projects are charged at US$20 per project. Pupils do three projects per subject area and so you can see how lucrative the venture has emerged to be in schools.”
Zhou said students needed to be assessed on an equal platform, adding that the implementation of CALA was rushed.
“The whole essence of CALA is that we must create an equal platform for assessing our students from an equal position. It shouldn’t be an added advantage to students with access to money. We must look at a student in Chiendambuya or Mberengwa. Can that student produce meaningful CALA projects without rigorous training, monitoring and supervision by the teacher?”
He said students under COVID-19 quarantine could not travel to do research on projects.
“There are lot of questions that have not been answered and what we see is a rash decision along a wrong direction,” Zhou said.
“The speed is also too much. I think we need to put some brakes somehow.”
A Form 6 student at a high school in Mt Darwin told NewsDay that some students paid US$3 to have their CALA projects done for them by other people.
Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro confirmed having received such reports, but said the ministry had dealt with the issue.
“Yes, there were reported cases of schools where some teachers were charging for CALA. We have since dealt with that issue. The reports were minimal and we have since dealt with them decisively. I can’t say the implicated schools off head,” Ndoro said.
CALA is part of Agenda 2030, a global agenda that demands that by 2030 countries should produce students with lifesaving skills.