It's a transformation process: Dokora

HARARE - Growing a full thick beard is no overnight experience, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora will tell you that.

But nursing facial fur until it becomes fully blown requires a certain degree of patience.

It’s a kind of tolerance that has become the character of Dokora who has endured an avalanche of hate speech, name calling and other derisive language since his appointment as minister in 2013.

It’s a burden that does not seem to trouble him, or well, not at least in the public domain where he has remained composed.

“The name calling, the attention drawing by persons or even the agenda setting by media, I am not dismayed,” a defiant Dokora tells the Daily News on Sunday.

“In itself it has actually assisted the education sector in making sure that everybody pays attention to the processes that are underway in the ministry.”

Dokora is fully aware that many of his pronouncements have set him on a collision course with stakeholders in the education sector.

To his credit, his drive for the New Curriculum has found recognition from member States within southern Africa.

“It has challenged us that Namibia actually used our Nziramasanga Commission report of 1999…and only now are we beginning to take notice of that report,” Dokora says.

“So, I think nothing is amiss. It’s part of the process of transformation and for us we feel comforted that at least, as we do the necessary handy work, everybody is paying attention and contributing.”

As far as the name calling is concerned he declares “well, you don’t hear that now, you know,” before offering a wry smile.

“…at the beginning of the process there was a level of disbelief, ‘why are we trying to change what we are doing?”

The beginning Dokora is perhaps referring to is the storm he torched when he introduced the national pledge which critics cried was an attempt to indoctrinate children.

His pronouncements on condoms and scripture union did little to instil trust in the masses who are yet to understand his methods.

And when he scraped off monetary incentives for teachers and banned of extra lessons, his subordinates were quick to call him Dofora.

A fortnight ago when he made his entrance into National Assembly Dokora was greeted by bleats, an apparent rebuke for his recent statement that goats could be used to pay school fees.

But despite all the hostilities Dokora maintains he sleeps well at night and is thankful that his family has not been drawn into the hate speech.

“At the beginning I kept saying no I am not changing (anything), we need to tweak, we are good at knowledge form but we need skills and value,” he says.

“…so ultimately everyone appreciates that you can’t continue to produce kids who are dysfunctional in their own economy. It doesn’t make logical or rational sense.”

Dokora does not take credit for his pronouncements that have gone on to be implemented.

“I am a small person in the nature of things,” he says, adding “all we are only trying to do is to see that people put their best foot forward, let’s work together.”

For those parents who believe they have Dokora figured out they may find out they still need to hold their breath for more.

Enter the School Sports Arts and Culture Festival week which is set to be held in schools and which Dokora hopes will feed into the Confederation of Schools Sport Associations of Southern Africa (Cossasa).

“Our systems in the region generally are examination driven but where the examinations are going is not necessarily where the economies are going,” Dokora says.

“So, you end up with kids with a string of good passes on paper but they are totally dysfunctional in the economy.

“So that’s why we structured the composition that in every term that there must be a whole week that is spent with kids going to school to showcase what they have learnt throughout the term.”

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