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CALA fueling drug abuse, says union leader

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

A teacher’s union leader says rampant drug abuse among some school students in Zimbabwe could be a result of the strenuous workload students are supposed to deal with under government’s unpopular Continuous Assessment Learning Areas (CALA).

Speaking at a dialogue organised by UNESCO-ROSA in Harare to commemorate World Teacher’s Day recently, Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) deputy secretary general Munyaradzi Masiyiwa said some students have resorted to drugs as a form of outlet for pressure caused by the controversial curriculum, introduced 2015.

“It has come to our notice that most students are failing to cope with the workload from ‘CALAs’,” Masiyiwa said.

“For instance, it’s about five ‘CALAs’ per subject for Ordinary Levels. So, for a student doing 10 subjects, he or she needs 50 ‘CALAs’.

“This is a heavy burden which students as a coping mechanism or escapism end up resorting to drugs.”

Government has declined stakeholder demands for the scrapping of CALA saying it was a necessary component of the country’s education system.

Masiyiwa said the fight against drug and substance abuse could only be won if those peddling the illicit material are accounted for.

“Honestly, to be able to deal decisively with the drug abuse problem, we need to find ways to cut the supply chain. Those supplying drugs are the real menace to society,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a keynote address, Zimbabwe Council of Higher Education (ZIMCHE) CEO Professor Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo affirmed the need for the teaching profession to adapt and adopt ICTs.

“As far as teacher education and a vision for professional practice of teaching is concerned, we are committed to the capacitation of teachers for a changing world that is operating in an uncertain and volatile global, national system because of the information and communication technologies (ICT),” he said.

This year’s World Teacher’s Day was commemorated under the theme, “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage”.

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