By Andrew Kunambura
Advanced ‘A’ Level students are now required to examine local modern-day prophets — complete with their abundant controversy — in line with the new education curriculum.
This was revealed in a Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) ‘‘A’’ Level November 2017 Divinity examination paper, in which some questions asked pupils to critique the likes of United Family International Church (UFIC) founder Emmanuel Makandiwa, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD)’s Walter Magaya and other fashionable men and women of the cloth who have taken the evangelical field by storm.
The Divinity paper was the first to ask students to analyse local contemporary religious groups that have stormed the country.
In recent years, Zimbabwe has witnessed the mushrooming of scores of prophets, who claim they can perform miracles, including saving long-suffering Zimbabweans from grinding poverty.
Previously, Divinity papers only asked questions that were strictly limited to biblical issues.
In the paper, the first question read: “Analyse the rise of prophetic guilds in Israel. How does this concept apply to Zimbabwe?”
Pupils would be asked to give a comparative analysis of the sudden explosion of prophetic societies in Zimbabwe with biblical prophetic icons such as Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Moses and other pre-canonical prophets.
Although in academic circles, pupils are expected to observe strict academic requirements such as objectivity, which is avoid showing emotions or detach their beliefs from their academic works, it would be interesting to note how some pupils who go to churches where prophets expressly declare to be untouchable would approach such questions, especially where they have to relate to the genuineness of their professed calling by God.
In the modern-day Zimbabwean church, the prophets assume the demi-god status and are immune to the kind of criticism which pupils are expected to give.
Another question asks the students to evaluate the moral uprightness of Zimbabwean prophets as compared to the ultra-biblical purists.
So one would be required, for example, to look at how the latter-day prophet loves money to the extent that he or she brings baskets in church which congregants fall over each other to fill up with bank notes in comparison with Elisha in the Bible, who did not accept the riches of Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram who miraculously got healed of leprosy.
The question would also require pupils to examine the questionable moral uprightness of the current prophets, some of whom are appearing before the courts for allegedly violating the country’s sex laws.
Question five asks pupils to discuss how Zimbabwean prophets’ oracles promote good governance in relation to what the Israelite prophets of the pre-canonical era did.
This comes at a time when most of the prophets have been criticised for issuing only “feel good” prophesies about the economy’s apparent rebound when in actually fact, there has never been one.
In fact, if anything, the country’s economy has further crumbled, without any hope for recovery.
One of the most interesting questions in the paper is question eight in which examiners want pupils to show how top politicians abuse their powerful political positions to abuse power in relation to oracles of one of the greatest Biblical prophets, Isaiah.
While the effort to localise education has been lauded as progressive, there has been subject to controversy, with some critics arguing that the new curriculum was rushed before the production of enough academic texts to assist both the learners and teachers.
“The effort is very commendable, but we are having nightmares in terms of teaching material and mostly we are forced to rely on general knowledge and observing contemporary developments to help the pupils,” an established Divinity teacher based at a top Harare school said. Daily News