So what EXACTLY is a 'mass display' exam, President Mugabe?

Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)
Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

Harare - Zimbabwe's education minister says "sport and mass display" will now be a compulsory school subject up to age 16 - and students will be examined in it.

The proposal, contained in an article in the state-run Sunday Mail, has provoked outrage online, as well as comparisons with North Korea's mass indoctrination strategies.

In fact, "physical education, sport and mass display" gets more importance in Zimbabwe's new school curriculum than computer science does. Computer science is on the list of optional O-level subjects that students can choose from, along with history, geography, chemistry and biology. But PE, sports and mass display and heritage studies will now be compulsory for all students, whatever their abilities in the subject areas.

Unpopular education minister Lazarus Dokora told the Sunday Mail: "We are now encouraging our students to take sports, arts, ICT seriously so as to apply whatever they learn to real-life terms."

Not everyone is convinced, especially with elections 18 months or so away.

"Sounds like a way of trying to teach our kids Zanu-PF pungwe songs," tweeted prominent journalist @zenzele. A pungwe is a political meeting often held in the community at night, sometimes to politically "re-educate" community members.

"The method behind [Minister] Dokora's Mass Display madness is born from Chinese/North Korean mass indoctrination strategies," tweeted @BusieBhebhe. North Korea holds a "mass games" display of dance and gymnastic every year with up to 100 000 participants in what is reported by the BBC to be a "state propaganda extravanganza".

At the weekend Mugabe's ruling party won a by-election in Bikita West, southern Zimbabwe, after a run-up in which there were some complaints of violence, intimidation and vote-buying.

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