THE Zimbabwean government is in a state of paralysis and seems to be on cruise control. Ministers are not announcing any new policies for fear of ending up in the ‘wrong basket’ i.e. holding views that could be perceived as different from those of the President’s.
Education minister Hon. Dokora is the exception and he has earned himself the nickname Dofora for his troubles.
There are very few politicians who court as much controversy as Zimbabwe’s Minister of Education Hon. Dokora. He has earned himself a reputation for forcing transformational policies without any consultations and without clarifying the long-term implications of his policies.
Some of the controversial policies pushed by the beleaguered minister in the last few months since he came into office are as follows;
Dokora gave an order prohibiting schools from excluding students due to non-payment of fees. Instead, he advised schools to get parents who fail to pay fees to be arrested and prosecuted.
He is pushing for the introduction of IT as a subject in schools, even though the majority of rural schools have no IT equipment, electricity nor the skills force which is committed to deliver this area of the curriculum in the already poorly staffed schools.
Dokora tried to ban the Christian Union (something which former members credit for providence of a moral compass during their youth) from schools and instead insisted that emphasis should be on recitals of the newly launched national pledge.
There are unconfirmed reports which suggest that Minister Dokora received about $20m from OPEC countries to be used for construction of ‘Islamic schools’.
The Hon. Minister’s failure to tender clarity in respect of his agenda has led the citizens to speculate that:
Minister Dokora is trying to indoctrinate children into ZANU PF ideology by politicising education;
Minister Dokora is a Muslim and that his real intentions are to spread his faith by suppressing Christianity in education and promoting his faith through the back door. The rumour of the $20m donation from OPEC (which is dominated by countries where Islam is the main faith) has raised eyebrows.
Zimbabwe is a secular state that separates religion and the state but its education system has mostly remained Christian dominated. Parents who received a Christian-based education are determined to ensure that their children get the same.Advertisement
Zimbabweans do not have confidence in the ability of the government to defend its young people from indoctrination into extremism in the event that an alternative curriculum is offered and there are gaps within it which will allow for unforeseen infiltration as has happened in countries world over including developed nations.
The Zimbabwean government is struggling for money and is suspected of being willing to accept funding from anyone regardless of the conditions which may be attached handouts. Citizens are being kept guessing on what the Minister’s real intentions are. Minister Dokora is however not doing much to offer clarity – despite the citizens having a right to be included and informed in any decisions that may impact on their future.
The majority of members of an online discussion group concluded that there is a gap between perception and reality, they also agreed that the Hon. Minister is not doing enough to narrow that gap. This perception gap has left citizens unsure about how to respond.
Suspicions about the minister’s real intentions are fuelled by speculation that he intends to build tens of Islamic schools while current demand is not thought to justify that many. This has led to parents suspecting that Mr Dokora’s real intention is to revolutionise religion in Zimbabwe.
The bewildered citizens are also questioning whether logic would not have placed focus on repairing and upgrading existing schools rather than build new ones?
In the meantime, the intrigue is fuelled by the fact that President Mugabe who should be clarifying things appears uninterested.
David Mutori is a UK based Zimbabwean. He writes summarising discussions from a Facebook based discussion group Zimbabwe Conundrum. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org