NKULELEKO MEANS FREEDOM
1982 - 28 minutes. 16mm. Video. Produced by Ron and Opera Hallis. Distributed by Icaris/First Run.
TOPICS: Education, Development, Zimbabwe, Socialism.
Considerable background information required on the philosophy of Education With Production is required, as well as a some knowledge of the Zimbabwean educational system.
This film details aspects of education and production in Zimbabwe. The three fundamentals of Education with Production (EWP) are considered to be: 1) the struggle for production; 2) the struggle for achievement; and 3) the correct ideological perspective. Headmasters and President Mugabe are interviewed in the film. Mugabe talks about the need for socialism and claims that even the Pope described the Zimbabwean project as a humanitarian one which supports human solidarity.
The rhetorical introduction by a headmaster addressing his 950 pupils conceals the philosophical sophistication of EWP. He discusses EWP as mainly technical training for rural development. The lack of discussion of EWP philosophy could create the erroneous impression that this form of education is inferior to conventional education, or that it is dogmatically Marxist. In fact, EWP had been operating successfully throughout the non-Marxist states of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland and in the Transkei Bantustan.
It is possible that the film had a promotional intent and that the content needs to be seen in this light, rather than viewed as having an instructional objective.
Though the film presents EWP as the main form of post-independence schooling, this is misleading as only four or five schools in Zimbabwe were established to pursue this pedagogic philosophy. They arose out of the need to educate the children of refugees in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. These schools, however, received only limited state support, the popular demands being rather for conventional academic education. When parents were given an option between conventional and EWP schools, they mostly opted for the former. Surprisingly, the video does not acknowledge the Foundation for Education With Production (FEP), which established these schools, though one of the interviewers, Janice McLaughlan, was connected with FEP.
EWP reflects the humanitarian elements of socialism and integrates with the new government's own ideas on development. In Nkukeleko, however, a certain mismatching occurs with Mugabe talking about the need to break down the head/hand dichotomy at a general level, while the specific visual descriptions and narration tend to lose this generality in rhetorical technicism and dancing/singing school children.
The film does not explain the education system, nor the debates which have taken place in Zimbabwe over educational philosophies or systems. The film would be most useful in certain graduate courses examining different philosophies of education and attempts to develop them in developing countries.
In 1982, when the film was made, it was not clear whether the conventional, academically-based education system would be the preferred one. The debates over the kinds of education that should be introduced were at their height during this time, but these dynamics are not reflected in the film.
(Critique by Keyan Tomaselli and MSU Evaluators, 1990)