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IN A controversial suggestion, President Robert Mugabe has said he wants all children to go through national service training once they have reached O-level standard.

“We want to get to a stage where every student at O-level has gone through national service training,” said Mugabe told thousands of well-wishers at his birthday party in Victoria Falls on Saturday.

Named after its founder, the late Border Gezi, national service training was introduced at the turn of the century with the first camp established at Mt Darwin in 2001, followed by several others around the country.

The youth camps churned out several thousand graduates, who came to be known as “Green Bombers” and were accused of gross rights abuses and brutal crackdowns against opposition activists and supporters.

Mugabe’s government claimed that the training programme was meant to instil national pride, while equipping the youth with vocational skills.

Critics accused Zanu PF of turning the graduates into a paramilitary youth militia used to harass political foes.

The programme was later abandoned due to funding problems with the centres reportedly plagued by desertions, acute food shortages and squalid living conditions.

However, on Saturday Mugabe said national service was important for youth development and ensuring high moral standards and self-discipline.

“We want to enhance our national service training,” he said.

“It is an important training indeed. We would want to get to a stage where every student will have gone through national service training at O-Level, so we want to build resources towards that.”

Mugabe said there was need for a paradigm shift in the country’s education system.

Zimbabwe, he added, needed to create out of its youth, employment creators rather than job-seekers.

“We will do it at stages progressively until we have enough funds to cover the whole country so that we have a paradigm shift in education.

“In other words, our education system is stereotyped. There is too much emphasis on just academic subjects.

“This should see us reviewing the education curriculum, bringing it in line with the current national aspirations of creating employers rather than employees out of the educational system – to educate students for self-employment rather than for employment under institutes. We will do both.”

Source : New Zimbabwe