‘Economy not conducive for ‘O’ Level internship programmes’


FORMER Education minister David Coltart says government plans to introduce an internship programme for “O” Level students were bound to falter under the current economic environment.


Coltart told Southern Eye in an interview yesterday that the proposed internships were theoretically sound and had been successfully implemented in stable economies such as Germany and Singapore, but would not be sustainable locally given the poor state of industry and the economy.

“Our system is indeed very academic and lacks vocational training, but application of this curriculum change would be a problem,” he said.

Education minister Lazarus Dokora recently announced plans to introduce the programme to benefit students awaiting their “O” Level results to enable them to acclimatise with the workplace environment.

The ministry’s draft curriculum has provisions for continuous assessment and course work grading of learners as opposed to the current examination-based grading system.

David Coltart
David Coltart

But Coltart expressed doubts over industry’s capacity to absorb all “O” Level school-leavers given that most companies were downsizing their operations, while others had already closed shop.

He noted the lack of a legal framework to govern the programme, saying there was need to first ensure that students would be protected from abuse.

Most tertiary institutions currently set aside one academic year for industrial attachment, but some students have complained of being overworked.

Commenting on a proposed switch from a basically exam-based secondary school grading system, Coltart said: “There could be danger in bringing in a new system which could undermine and overstretch Zimsec’s capacity.”