The efficacy of properly implemented CALA in terms of blending theory and practical experience of students, let alone entrenching a skills education regime, is not in doubt. However, CALA need adequate time-frame in order to allow budgetary allocation from the state, training of teachers for standardisation of CALA assessment tools and interoperability, reasonable time to allow students to engage in research and writing of CALA projects under the supervision of their teachers.
However, the fast-tracking of CALA in Zimbabwe in less than two months before students write examination and in light of lockdown learning backlog, baffles logic and common sense. It has sent students into panic mode and susceptible to academic mercenaries who have emerged overnight ready to produce defective CALAs for students at US$10 for primary pupils and and US$20 for a Secondary project.
With primary pupils doing 18 CALAs and secondary pupils up to 48 CALAs, the magnitude of fleecing and uselessness of CALA as an assessment tool is rampant. When CALA is turned into assessing the highest bidder, mostly in urban area at the expence of rural students, its importance is certainly questionable.
Teachers are pre-occupied with covering work they must have covered under normal circumstances. They also lack intrinsic motivation due to their starvation wages. They certainly have no time to guide pupils to do proper research, let alone monitor and supervise such research.
The best that gvt must do is to suspend CALA as the majority of CALA projects produced under such hap-hazardous meddling and muddling through are not pupils’ work but products of exchange of money and therefore serve no purpose in terms of developing student’s skills.
Ministry Primary and Secondary officials must learn to listen to professional advice, as more often than not their intransigent and irresponsible approach, impermeable to reason and facts, has been disastrous. There is no adequate time for successful implementation of CALA, and the best that the nation must do in 2021 is to suspend it.
Its continued implementation in 2021 will benefit neither the student, teacher, education system nor the nation. A futile exercise is not worthy our pursuit unless we are led by educational vandals who cannot listen to professional advice. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, PTUZ President