THE Zambia Civic Education Association has urged schools to implement a policy that allows them to dedicate 20 per cent of the schools curriculum to local activities.

Commenting on the abandoning of classes of 300 pupils at Mwenimenda Middle Basic School in Lubanseshi Constituency in Luwingu in preference for collection of caterpillars locally known as ifishimu, Zambia Civic Education Association executive director Judith Mulenga said lack of implementation of the localised curriculum concept in the education sector was making this seem like a problem.
Mulenga said the current education policy allowed for schools to dedicate 20 per cent of the school curriculum to local activities.

She said if schools had been implementing this proactive and progressive provision, activities such as catching 'ifishimu' would be an integral part of the local school curriculum of the area and would not necessarily be viewed as a negative thing.

"The pupils would benefit from not only knowledge on breeding patterns of these caterpillars, the trees that nurture them but also economically benefit from the catching and selling of them.

Which normal human being would deny themselves an opportunity to make money, especially if one lives in rural areas where there is an endemic lack of opportunities for sustainable livelihoods?" she asked.  "The Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education's guidelines for the development of the localised curriculum states that the aim is to impart knowledge, skills, positive attitudes and values to pupils within a locality for individual and community sustainable development."

Mulenga said the education policy places obligations on the school to play a greater role in the community and vice versa and for both institutions to prepare its pupils to live rewarding and satisfying lives in their communities.
"Now if seasonal livelihoods such as catching caterpillars is part of the community's economic cycle, why not bring the activity into the school's curriculum and have a winwin situation?" asked Mulenga. 

About 300 pupils at Mwenimenda Middle Basic School in Lubanseshi Constituency in Luwingu have abandoned lessons to help parents in the collection of caterpillars.

School authorities said Lukashya and some parts of Lubansenshi constituencies had recorded an influx of caterpillars, paralysing school programmes in areas in senior chief Shimumbi of Luwingu and chief Munkonge of Kasama, respectively.