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Education programme in shambles

Tendai Mukaripe
UNCERTAINTY continues to plague the implementation of the Continuous Assessment Learning Activities (Cala) programme with some teachers confused about the process, a development which may compromise the quality of education.

Cala comprises various learning activities or assessments that require students to conduct detailed research-based learning in specific areas where they incorporate practicals such as data collection through interviews, questionnaires, checklists, observations and experiments.

In March this year, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education announced an urgent revival of the continuous assessment framework for 2021 candidates.

However, some technical subjects’ teachers said they were in the dark over the implementation of Cala in practical subjects because the assessment appears to be a duplication of the annual projects that final year students submit as part of coursework.

These projects contribute 20% and 30% of the final examination mark for Ordinary and Advanced level pupils, respectively.

“All things being equal, the assessment should be continuous in the sense that students do them throughout a two-year period but with Covid-19 lockdowns, it has not been possible.

However, it has now become like a second project and we are now in a quandary over whether they are doing the projects together with the Cala or are supposed to drop one,” said a metal work teacher in Harare.

Another chipped in: “We asked this question in one of the workshops but did not get a proper response. It makes little sense to say, Cala constitutes 30% of the final examination mark, project 20%, practical examination 40% and theory exam, 40%. Giving a total of 120%.”

“How we are supposed to proceed is not clear because those responsible for providing answers are not forthcoming.”

To be safe, some schools are urging learners to proceed with Cala and projects simultaneously. Deadlines for the submission of both the projects and continuous assessments models and folders is next week.

“I have dropped the subject (woodwork). Doing two projects within a month was draining yet I have eight other subjects that require my attention. I decided to concentrate on other subjects,” said a student from a school in central Harare.

Further compounding the problem is the fact that some schools have bloated classes averaging 50 students, and it has become difficult for teachers to monitor two different projects.

According to the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) statistics, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education had a teaching personnel deficit of 50 000 in January 2021 and more than 20 000 teachers had resigned since that period out of frustration.

PTUZ president Takafira Zhou said the prevailing uncertainties associated with the assessment exercise were caused by the non-involvement of teachers during the Cala consultative process.

“Broad engagement of teachers as the implementers is crucial as they develop and contextualise Cala, its assessment instruments and execution, monitoring, supervising and supporting learners, mark and record and profile learners’ competencies among others,” Zhou said.

“Put succinctly, teachers are the ones that provide comprehensive standardised assessment tools to guarantee success of continuous assessment.”

In a document published by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) titled: Urgent revival of continuous assessment learning activities (Cala): An unwelcome waste of limited learning time, the teacher representative body said: “Learners have lost learning time due to both Covid-19 disruptions and teacher incapacitation, the hurried implementation of the Cala framework is an unwelcome waste of both limited learning time and the little resources in our schools.”

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro told the Independent that: “There is no duplication. They already did learning assessments as practical subjects.”

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