THE QUALITY OF CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION IN HARARE PRIMARY SCHOOLS: AN EVALUATION OF CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION
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The marked decline in positive civic behaviour among young Zimbabweans that was reported by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education of 1999 prompted me to investigate the quality of citizenship education that was implemented in schools through social studies - a subject that I lectured in at the University of Zimbabwe. The investigation took the form of a case study of three primary schools that comprised a former Group A school, a former Group B school and a Trust school in the city of Harare. I examined the official syllabus document that was intended for use in schools and how it was actually implemented at classroom level with particular reference to content, pedagogy, school ethos and climate. I used an interpretive ethnographic research design that involved a full school year of participant observation, triangulated with detailed document analysis and in-depth interviews with school heads, teachers and pupils. The thesis is based on what I heard from participants, studied in the documents that they used, observed in classrooms and schools and what I, as a participant-observer, synthesised and reflected on. I found that the intended curriculum as represented by the official social studies syllabus of 1982 had considerable potential for citizenship education. While it required updating to incorporate post-1980 developments, it did not require a complete overhaul for it to promote citizenship education. The evaluation of the primary school social studies curriculum led to the conclusion that the problem was largely at implementation level. Distortion first occurred during textbook writing, official approval and publishing. This was then amplified at school and classroom level because of the dominance of the textbook as a teaching aid and the failure to make significant links to the actual environments and contexts in which pupils lived. An examination-driven curriculum helped perpetuate a low quality implemented citizenship curriculum largely characterised by rote learning and limited practical citizenship-oriented activities. The pupils themselves, when given the opportunity, were very keen on citizenship education. The ethos and climate of the school also had an important input into how young children experienced citizenship education.