PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe inadvertently popularised “weevils” in Zimbabwe after he launched a blistering attack on people he accused of seeking to destroy Zanu PF from within two weeks ago.
FROM THE EDITOR WALTER MARWIZI’S DESK
Suddenly weevils, devil incarnates and other derogatory words gained currency on social media, pubs and kombis. Whoever was suspected of working at cross purposes with others was considered a weevil or a devil incarnate, another term used by Mugabe to blast Information minister Jonathan Moyo for allegedly using the public media to fuel divisions in the party.
The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Didymus Mutasa added to the intrigue by suggesting that “gamatox” be used to exterminate the troublesome insects from Zanu PF.
Away from the convoluted world of Zanu PF politics, some teachers who hardly get a platform like Mugabe to broadcast their opinions, also quietly coined their own word Dofo-ra [ignoramus] to refer to the Minister of Education Lazarus Dokora whom they accused of destroying Zimbabwe’s education “weevil style”.
With his unmistakable goatee, the Minister of Education has become a poster boy of ridicule among teachers, angry with the way he is trying to “reinvent the wheel” in the education sector.
It seems, Dokora is ruffling feathers with teachers and headmasters from Zambezi to Limpopo with reforms that only he himself seems to understand and believe can help transform Zimbabwe’s education system for the better.
Unlike his predecessors, Dokora has banned vacation school; he does not want to see parents encouraging teachers to put in extra effort through paying attractive incentives to them. He prefers that schools use the legal process to recover fees from defaulting parents, rather than sending children away.
I don’t believe the rumour doing the rounds that Dokora doesn’t want teachers to be paid when they are on holiday or that sports be banned from the curriculum. That would be the height of absurdity and I am certain the honourable minister would also reject such ideas.
Whatever Dokora’s motives, they are clearly harmful to the education sector if one listens to the concerns coming from schools.
Traditionally, teachers tend to hold ministers of education in high regard: remember the remarkable Fay Chung, Dzingai Mutumbuka and David Coltart who mobilised the donor community to supply millions of textbook to our impoverished schools.
But in less than a year in charge, Dokora already ranks as the worst minister of education since independence. Instead of focusing on their classroom duties, angry teachers are busy drafting papers exposing the flaws in the minister’s policies and are using every opportunity to denounce him. Last week headmasters sounded an alarm when they attended the National Association of Secondary School Heads (Nash) conference held in Victoria Falls under the theme “Education: an Invaluable Investment”.
“We have resolved to seek audience with President Robert Mugabe because we don’t know what our minister is thinking, we have made every effort to meet him but each time he has ignored us and the issues we are trying to highlight to him,” said a teachers’ representative.
The headmasters’ lack of confidence in their minister clearly shows there is a leadership crisis in the ministry of education.
We all know Zimbabwe’s education system is broken down, but the last thing we expect to see is a minister who will further break it into pieces. The state of affairs in the ministry calls for Mugabe to act on the matter. The President cannot be seen to be only denouncing weevils that are destroying Zanu PF, without equally doing the same to ministers like Dokora who have caused widespread rancour in schools.
For how long can Mugabe allow Dokora to implement his ill-advised and half-baked policies? Do we need a minister who believes only himself has the right answers to the problems confronting our education system, ignoring the advice given by professionals who have dedicated their lives to teaching our children for little gain?
There is no denying Dokora is like a square peg that can’t fit in a round hole. It’s either he starts consulting teachers or he should abandon his ill thought out reforms which will only serve to destroy the gains made in the education sector. We wait for a cabinet reshuffle with bated breath.