Conceptualising historical literacy in Zimbabwe : a textbook analysis.
While debates rage over the relevance and worth of school history, history has been one of the five compulsory subjects up to Ordinary Level in Zimbabwe. However, far away from the corridors of power, it is essential that research be conducted on what school history is for and what represents that which the learner of school history acquires through at least eleven years of school history studies in Zimbabwe. Using the concept of historical literacy as its framework, this study is an analysis of three Ordinary Level history textbooks in Zimbabwe to explore how historical literacy manifests itself in Zimbabwean school history textbooks. In a context of increased government concern over what and how school history should be taught, the study explains how the textbooks that were produced more than ten years ago can still be turned into resources for the propagation of patriotic history, which emerged in the last decade. While conceptualisations of historical literacy continue, I argue for multiple historical literacies, that is, historical literacy which actually takes different forms in different times, spaces and contexts. Thus, what is represented as historical literacy in Zimbabwean history textbooks is not necessarily what historical literacy is elsewhere. This research is a qualitative textual analysis which was conducted in an interpretivist paradigm. I employed historical discourse analysis, question analysis and visual analysis as the analysis methods. The analysis was conducted through an instrument created from the benchmarks of the conceptual framework. The study concluded that despite attempt to push for an activitybased curriculum, historical knowledge, especially the nationalist narrative, is still the dominant benchmark of historical literacy in Zimbabwean textbooks. As a result, the current textbooks can be used, not only for a state sanitised version of historical literacy, but also a version of political literacy.