An Interview with David Coltart: Minister of Education in Africa

Feb 21, 2012 by

David Coltart Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture for Zimbabwe

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) David, first of all, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little bit about what you are currently doing?

I am currently working on getting cabinet approval for a 5 year strategic plan which includes restoring the professional status of teachers, conducting a total review of the curriculum and rehabilitating schools.

2) Now, what are some of the major challenges that you face?

We face major financial and human resource constraints. Last year, I had less than US $5 per child for non teacher salary expenditure! In 2007 AND 2008 we lost 20,000 teachers so still have grave shortages of qualified teachers.

3) I have been to Belleville and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and would love to return. Could you first tell our readers a bit about Zimbabwe, and it’s environs?

Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful countries on earth ! It is a complete mix –most of it is high, over 1400 metres, so it is relatively cool for the tropics. It has mountains in the east with trout streams and could be Scotland. In the center, there are rolling savannah plains and rich teak forests. To the west there is the mighty Zambezi river with the Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba which at on e time was the world’s largest man-made lake. We have game reserves, rich diamond gold and platinum mines and fertile soils which are generally well watered. Harare, the capital has been voted as having the best climate of all the world’s capitals. It never gets too hot or cold there.

4) As Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, you wear many proverbial hats. How do you manage to juggle all of these duties and which do you see as most important?

I have to be very disciplined with my time. My most important duty is that of being a father and husband. If I cannot perform that task well, I am no use to the country especially as education minister. My next most important task is that of education minister, followed by my responsibilities as sport, arts, and culture minister. I am also on the Constitutional reform body charged with reforming Zimbabwe’s constitution to make it more democratic.

5) What are the concerns educationally in your country?

Literacy and Numeracy rates are falling and I am charged with stopping the rot and getting them back up to levels we enjoyed in the past.

6) Could you address the “arts and culture“ and how you endeavor to promote music, dance, theatre, and drama?

I see my role as one of facilitating the arts. We are blessed with enormous talent in the country so there is little need to try to develop talent- my primary role is to identify it, nurture it and promote it.

7) I have visited your web site and was most impressed. Could you provide it for our readers and discuss what they would find there?

My Web Site is WWW.DAVIDCOLTART.COM and I can also be followed on TWITTER and FACEBOOK. The WEB SITE is in the process of being revamped.

8) As you know, the Olympics are in London this year- would there be any chance of it ever being held in some part of Africa?

We hope that it will be held in Africa one day. South Africa successfully hosted the Football World Cup in 2010 and we hope that that proves that Africa is capable of hosting the Olympics.

9) What have I neglected to ask ?

I think you got it all well! Thank you !

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