via NAMACO’s new draft for schools – The Zimbabwean 29.9.2015
Zimbabwe’s National Manpower Advisory Council (NAMACO) will introduce Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects including natural sciences and physics starting from the grade zero level in its proposed new draft curriculum for schools, according to Tendai Bare, NAMACO Chairperson in address to delegates attending the UNESCO Africa Engineering Week being hosted by Zimbabwe in Victoria Falls on 14 to 19 September, 2015.
The objectives of the Africa engineering week being co-hosted by the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe (ECZ) and the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE) and sponsored by UNESCO with other organisations is to increase the visibility of engineering and its role in sustainable development and to encourage students to study engineering by supplementing the STEM curriculum with practical engineering applications.
In a video link address to the conference, Professor Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa said that more young people need to take up engineering careers and making that choice depends on access to the necessary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)curriculum.
Bare said that the initiative being proposed by NAMACO is meant to underwrite the availability of a large catchment area of students with a strong bias towards mathematics and science cascading up the hierarchy of categories experiencing shortages.
“There are deep rooted systemic challenges that the education system in Zimbabwe is facing. One of the problems is that Zimbabwe currently has a critical shortage of engineers as evidenced by the engineer to population ratio of 1:6 500,” Bare said.
She added that the dearth of engineers can be tracked back to the scarcity of lecturers which she said is also attributable to the lack of a pool of school leavers who both attempt and pass mathematics and science.
“Right at the source, we find that the very supply of competent mathematics and science teachers is inadequate,” Bare said.
Bare also added that in-order to come up with a comprehensive national balance of the supply and demand of human capital, NAMACO and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development are organizing a nation-wide human resources survey.
According to Bare, NAMACO is responsible for developing Occupational Competency Profiles that inform the development of demand driven curricula.
She says it is that kind of curriculum which helps bridge the gap between industry needs and the training in institutions. NAMACO is calling for accelerated training to score quick wins.
“In this respect, recognition for Prior Learning (RPL), On the Job Education and Training (OJET) and e-Learning are some of the initiatives being recommended by the organization.
The OJET component in training is designed to improve the caliber of graduates.