Reconceptualization of the Home Economics Curriculum in Zimbabwe
Siyakwazi, Peggy Doris
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Home Economics was introduced in Zimbabwe as domestic science,which was basically meant to train women as domestic workers of white settlers. The main emphasis was on simple cookery skills,laundry work,general cleanliness,cleaning of the house and basic mending skills. Practical skills were emphasized at the expense of the theory behind them. According to the Kerr Commission report of 1962:50 Domestic Science has tended to concentrate on skills rather than on the studies behind them and of which the skills are the practical expression. In this way,a lot of genuine interest in new approach to familiar situations could be lost and activities often become repetitious and unrelated to realities of life. In the 1927 Hadfield Commission report,the emphasis was on educating the majority of Africans at primary school level to give them basic skills as better domestic servants of whites. The scientific development of home economics had humble beginnings. The history of home economics teaching includes efforts from church institutions such as Usher, Morgenster and Monte Cassino. According to interviews with Mrs Moyo October 10,1994 and Mrs Gambiza June 4,1994,the curriculum of mission schools and colleges lacked depth and prepared women for domestic services. The government’s input came with the opening of a one-year course at Goromonzi secondary school.Later,came the T2B course at Mutare Teacher’s college. This became popular in the late fifties until as late as 1973.Adjustments in teacher training programmes necessitated the phasing out of the T1 course at Gweru Teacher’s college and transplanting of the T2 programme under the then Division of African Education, which operated as a two-year skills programme plus one year of education.In both secondary schools and teachers’colleges, the home economics curriculum follows a similar subject combination,such as food and nutrition, home management, fashion and fabrics and in some cases mothercraft. These subjects are artificially treated because the content is not deep in penentration and the curriculum which is general for the teachers. In addition,the text books used are not relevant to our situation. As a result,the teachers tend to use them as they are without any adaptation to suit the situation. Some of the equipment is in short supply and can only be used in urban secondary schools, as it is not suitable for rural school use. This presents problems because some of the teachers trained using the urban machines cannot function effectively in rural schools.Such a situation forces people to ask how relevant the curriculum is to the present situation in Zimbabwe.