ERIC Number: ED326354
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990
Reference Count: N/A
The State and Curriculum in Transition Societies: The Zimbabwean Experience.
This in-depth study of school curricula in Zimbabwe examines curriculum development and its relationship to state politics in postcolonial third-world nations. An important assumption of the research is that curriculum is a powerful political tool, particularly in newly independent African states; hence, radical curricular revisions were to be expected under the new postcolonial policies. Yet, these revisions have largely failed to materialize, and it is the position of this paper that the persistence of curriculum continuity in the face of significant sociopolitical change has never been adequately accounted for. "Continuity" is defined as the lack of change in curriculum content from the colonial to the postcolonial period. The paper discounts the following four explanations for curriculum continuity: (1) the technicist model, which argues that better social results are brought about by greater managerial efficiency and better texts; (2) dependency, which links curriculum continuity to reliance on Western knowledge; (3) the cultural-relevance model, which attributes lack of curriculum change to the incompatibility between the assumptions of local culture and imported curriculum models; and (4) legitimation, which assumes that policies of the new state are problematic to begin with. The research assesses the effects of history and politics on Zimbabwe's educational decisions, and shows that attempts toward curriculum reform had different and sometimes contradictory motivations and consequences. Though unsuccessful, these attempts represent genuine efforts to radicalize the colonial curriculum. The paper details the development of "The Political Economy of Zimbabwe," a controversial Marxist-Leninist curriculum, and examines issues of the national debate that followed its introduction. The document concludes that state politics maintain primacy in determining school curriculum in third world states, that historical and social forces have had a conditioning effect on Zimbabwe's curriculum decisions, and that the policy options available in the fragile political environment of the transition are extremely limited. (TES)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Curricular Debate; Zimbabwe
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (Anaheim, CA, March 22-25, 1990).