Lydia Biriwasha FAC Early Career FellowTitle: Agriculture in the School Curriculum in Zimbabwe
Research Objectives• To analyse how agriculture is taught and portrayed in primary and secondary schools in rural Zimbabwe, and• To explore the impact of this exposure on young people’s perception of agriculture as a career and livelihood choice.
Research question• How does the Curriculum shape or relate to young people’s aspirations and expectations?
Methodology• Interviewed 40 primary and secondary school pupils in Mutare district• Framings and narratives• Analysed the primary and sec Agric syllabus• Visited MoE, CDU and ARC
Primary school Syllabus• Agriculture is offered under a broad subject called Environmental Science.• The aims and objectives cover health, environmental & agricultural issues.• Agriculture and farming are not directly treated in this syllabus – the philosophy behind this is probably that one has to understand their environment and be able to take good care of it first.• A few agricultural topics are highlighted in the syllabus which include: water, soil, grazing, crops and animals.
Secondary school syllabus• Presented in three documents for: Junior, Ordinary and Advanced levels.• Agriculture is presented as a source of livelihood that can lead to personal & community development.• Pupils are exposed to theory & practice.• Only schools assessed by the MoE as being equipped to offer the course of practical work both in the laboratories and in the field can offer Agriculture.• The syllabus touch on: General Agric, Crop Husbandry, Livestock Husbandry, Farm & Machinery and Agric Economics.
‘Reading’ Agriculture in Primary & secondary school text bks • Agric experiments can be done by anyone despite their gender. • Manure, old & rotten grass, and other decomposable material – portray agriculture as unpleasant & dirty work. • Extension workers have a meeting but women are not present. • Simple and low-tech machines & tools – agriculture work is laborious, boring and unsophisticated. • Machinery such as tractors and harvesters are only operated by men.
Findings• Interviews with 40 pupils in five primary and secondary schools reviewed that:• Agriculture is presented as a profession for men not women (85% - 34)• Agriculture in schools is perceived as forced labour & laborious. (96% - 38)• 8 out of 10 head teachers reported having difficulties finding agriculture teachers.• There were no primary text books in the 5 schools visited – the teachers relied on secondary level text books.
Conclusions• Agriculture is primarily about looking after the environment as opposed to an exciting, modern livelihood or career choice.• Agriculture is presented as unsophisticated and backward.• Agriculture is presented as a ‘career’ for men.• The lack of teaching staff plays a role in creating different attitudes in pupils’ interest for agriculture.