Political control is imperative for Matabeleland but it alone will not solve the main Matabeleland problem of a general lack of good education. Good education is essential, we need to look at the way our young people are taught; it must not only be about educating people to acquire qualifications to get jobs; the objective must be good education, whatever that is.
A dynamic economy begins with a good education. Matabeleland requires a sufficiently good education that will prepare our young people so that they are ready to participate in the economic mainstream, if they so choose. We want a dynamic education that will prepare our children for the dynamic modern world of high-tech while keeping their feet firmly on the ground in terms of their identity, for a people without an identity soon loses its focus.
We must here be looking at an education that will make our children useful to the region first and foremost while allowing them the freedom, security and confidence to navigate the world around them in all its complexities and challenges; that is what I will call a good education.
A good education does not just happen to people; as a people we have a responsibility to make it happen. Matabeleland society needs to collectively define the parameters and set the basics of what would constitute a ‘good education’ and that which will differentiate it from any other form. We need a creative education system with the appropriate flexibility of approach; that will be a system that allows young people to make mistakes and afford them the platform to decide which ones they can keep.
Obvious deficiencies apart, I fiercely respect contributions from previous generations to our education system yet I believe a good education is one that addresses current needs while allowing creative space for predictions and associated planning for the future.
The minimal parental involvement in children’s education is significantly and causally linked to poor maintenance of educational infrastructure in our region, and thus poor academic attainment. Participation of parents in the education of their children should never be optional but a must if our dream of a good education are to be achieved. The old adage goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”; in similar vein, education does not start and end in a classroom; it is never the sole responsibility of a school teacher.
Our education programme must be an amalgam of ideas, research and contributions from professionals, young people and their parents; it needs to be diverse enough to fully accommodate all of Matabeleland’s social and cultural diversity. Parents and the communities must play their role and play it well and fully; participation of the Matabeleland population in the framing of our education programme is paramount.
A good education is not only about technological and teacher training sophistication and specialisation, but getting the basics right and getting the balance right. We need mutual trust and equal involvement of parents and professionals not only in the education of Matabeleland children but also in the drawing up of what constitutes a good education for our children and the future of Matabeleland. Without parental involvement teachers are powerless; parents need to set the standards at home and reinforce what the teachers do in schools.