Students’ Conceptions of 21st Century Education in Zimbabwe

Ottilia Muyambo-Goto, Devika Naidoo, Kerry J. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 21st century has ushered in accelerated new technologies, new knowledge and new information and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) – causing rapid changes in the way humans live and work and resulting in an outcry for educational reforms globally. Many frameworks and debates centred on rethinking and reshaping the curriculum including what knowledge, skills, values and attitudes should be taught to prepare learners to thrive in the 21st century, have been developed. This study examined the students’ conceptions of 21st century education in four diverse schools in Zimbabwe. The study is framed by the powerful theory and the complexity theory. The study used a quantitative non-experimental correlation design to collect data from four secondary schools, three of which follow the ZIMSEC syllabus and the other, a private school that follows a Cambridge syllabus. The questionnaire was adapted from the Partnership for 21st century framework (P21) and (Ravitz, 2014) to fit the Zimbabwean context. A total of 236 students and 93 took part. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and ANOVA were used to analyse the data. The results showed that the students’ conception of 21st century skills is defined by three factors: the learning of self-management, learning skills and values and learning process. Students most strongly endorsed self-management. It is envisaged that the proposed model of Zimbabwean students’ conceptions of 21st century skills will act as a baseline for theory, policymakers, head teachers, teachers and teacher education colleges to realign the current teaching to fit the 21st century curricula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-80
Number of pages32
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • 21st century skills
  • 4IR
  • Learning processes
  • Learning skills and values
  • Partnership for 21st century skills (P21)
  • Self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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