Mu­tasa Dis­trict Pri Schools Re­gen­er­ate… Pub­lic Speak­ing

THE up­dated cur­ricu­lum does not fo­cus on pass­ing ex­am­i­na­tions alone. It has come to in­ter­ro­gate and re­place the re­mote, dead, ab­stract and book­ish na­ture of the old colo­nially in­her­ited ap­proach.

The Manica Post - - Education/entertainment - Mor­ris Mtisi

IT HAS come to drive ed­u­ca­tion into con­vert­ing tal­ents, gifts, in­tel­li­gence and knowl­edge into use­ful ends. It has come to ex­pose learn­ers in schools to 21st cen­tury ed­u­ca­tion skills. And among a plethora of th­ese skills, though not for ex­am­i­na­tions, is Pub­lic Speak­ing and De­bat­ing.

How many times a day, in school, at home, at work, do we en­gage in some dis­cus­sion most of it cul­mi­nat­ing into il­lu­mi­nat­ing de­bates? Within and be­yond ex­am­i­na­tions, Pub­lic speak­ing and De­bat­ing skills are vi­tal. Of­ten-times you are asked to give a vote of thanks at a pub­lic gath­er­ing; present a speech on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue or topic, preach at your church, for politi­cians dur­ing cam­paign­ing for votes for one to be­come this or that politi­cian; at a fu­neral, grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony-the list is too long. Skills no doubt mat­ter here if the pur­pose of speak­ing must be ac­com­plished.

Re­al­is­ing the value of train­ing pupils in Pub­lic Speak­ing and De­bat­ing, pri­mary school teach­ers in Mu­tasa Dis­trict have taken the bull by the horns. Sup­ported by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Pri­mary Heads (NAPH) and teach­ers or­gan­i­sa­tion­ally chaired by Mrs Getrude Saruwaka(Sa­maringa Pri­mary School-Honde Val­ley) also the head-in- charge at Dis­trict level, 80 pri­mary schools in Mu­tasa Dis­trict sought an expert in Pub­lic Speak­ing and De­bat­ing to fa­cil­i­tate a work­shop to train train­ers. This was done at Hartzell Pri­mary school on 21 June 2017.

Speak­ing on Di­a­mond FM Ra­dio ed­u­ca­tional pro­gramme HEAD- TO-HEAD –WITH MM yes­ter­day night, Mrs Saruwaka said af­ter the Hartzell work­shop, the Pri­mary Schools are ready to take the bull by the horns.

“Those of us who at­tended the Hartzell work­shop learnt a lot of skills, do’s and don’ts, and shared wis­dom on a num­ber of is­sues to make sure Pub­lic Speak­ing clubs take off en­er­get­i­cally in the schools,” said the Sa­maringa Pri­mary school se­nior teacher.

“We all agree with the ob­ser­va­tion made and brought up by our facilitator at Hartzell, that what we call pub­lic speak­ing to­day is not pub­lic speak­ing, but recita­tions of speeches writ­ten for in­di­vid­ual pupils by their teach­ers. This must stop. We must train pupils to speak on their own ac­cord us­ing their own lan­guage and abil­ity—not re­play­ing recorded men­tal tapes…of course we must guide them and train them,” she added quot­ing the facilitator.

All three mem­bers on the Di­a­mond-FM panel, also mem­bers of the Mu­tasa Dis­trict Pri­mary Schools Pub- lic Speak­ing and De­bat­ing steer­ing com­mit­tee, agreed with Mrs Saruwaka.

Mrs Bless­ings Ganyekanye of Lit­tle St. Au­gus­tine’s — Pen­ha­longa said her school head and teach­ers are sup­port­ive and as ex­cited as she is about the ini­tia­tive.

“Lit­tle St Au­gus­tine’s is al­ready fired up to be­gin se­ri­ous pub­lic speak­ing. My school head and other teach­ers have reg­is­tered enor­mous ex­cite­ment and pledged sup­port to make sure pub­lic speak­ing be­comes se­ri­ous skills de­vel­op­ment at Lit­tle Tsambe,” said Mrs Ganyekanye,

She re­vealed that at the Hartzell work­shop they also learnt that Pub­lic speak­ing as a skill is de­vel­oped con­cur­rently with lis­ten­ing skill. Speak­ers must know that they are speak­ing or de­bat­ing as a group. It is im­por­tant to lis­ten to what another speaker says, so that you can use what you have heard to your ad­van­tage to sound con­vinc­ing and per­sua­sive.”

Ms Alice Mat­senyengwa of Jombe Pri­mary school said it was en­light­en­ing to learn from the facilitator that we must not en­cour­age com­pet­ing and win­ning at the ex­pense of skills mas­tery and the sheer joy of par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“We agreed with our facilitator,” Ms Mat­senyengwa said. “The com­pe­ti­tion el­e­ment forces teach­ers to write speeches for their speak­ers to mem­o­rize.

‘‘ This is not pub­lic speak­ing, we learnt. Speaker s must use lit­tle cards where they jot a few words-not more than 8 to re­mind them of what to say or the next point. And a speaker who does not crit­i­cize or com­ment on another speaker’s points shows that he or she was not lis­ten­ing. Th­ese pub­lic speak­ers we have seen be­fore say what they have to say and sit down. That shows they were not lis­ten­ing but wor­ried about their chance to speak,” said Ms Mat­senyengwa.

“I learnt many things at Hartzell but per­haps most in­spir­ing was that Pub­lic Speak­ing skills are life skills be­cause in life we al­ways en­gage in ev­ery­day dis­cus­sions and de­bates. At my school (Betha­nia Pri­mary School) we still need to re­port back on the Hartzell work­shop and mo­bi­lize sup­port from other teach­ers. I am con­fi­dent that we will not stop here. We are de­ter­mined to see this project ac­com­plished and Mu­tasa Pri­mary schools be­com­ing a haven of skill­ful pupil pub­lic speak­ers, said Mr Maringa Marsh­well.

Mu­tasa Dis­trict Pri­mary Schools must be con­grat­u­lated. They want to take pub­lic speak­ing to new heights, se­ri­ously show- cas­ing real stan­dards, as op­posed to the pre­vail­ing Pub­lic Speak­ing cheat­ing or Drama where pupils re­cite teach­ers’ speeches and minds in pub­lic.

The teach­ers in the Dis­trict must also be con­grat­u­lated for com­ply­ing with the up- dated cur­ricu­lum which of­fers a lot of learn­ing ar­eas that are not nec­es­sar­ily ex­am­inable…but se­ri­ously en­cour­ag­ing and de­vel­op­ing life skills like Pub­lic Speak­ing and De­bate.

This writer, be­ing an ed­u­ca­tion­ist and for­mer school teacher him­self, pledges to do what he can do in his lim­ited time, to help Mu­tasa Dis­trict Pub­lic Speak­ing and De­bat­ing reach de­sired heights fol­low­ing home­grown 21st cen­tury skills, not tired, old fash­ioned tra­di­tions.

The full Mu­tasa Pub­lic Speak­ing and De­bat­ing steer­ing com­mit­tee com­prises the fol­low­ing mem­bers:

Ms Kat­sidzira Beauty (chair) — Hartzell Pri­mary School; Mr Maringa Marsh­well — Betha­nia Pry School; Kaerezi Lang­ton — Sa­manga Pri­mary school; Ms Mat­senyengwa — Jombe St Peter’s Pry School; Mar­wei Po­lite — St David’s Bonda Pry School and Mrs Bless­ings Ganyekanye — Lit­tle St Au­gus­tine’s- Pen­ha­longa and of course Mrs Getrude Saruwaka (Sa­maringa Pry School.)

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