Pakati Schools Report – Part 1 – the Challenges

Welcome to Part 1 of an important report on the situation at both Pakati schools.

Friends of Pakati is more than just one person – the Author – as we have support from a number of individuals, mostly with a direct link to at least one of the two schools, Pakati Primary & Secondary.

The key supporters are: Mr Chifaka & Mr Mahachi (the Heads), Bothwell Riside & Lorraine Mapuranga (2 former students), Debbie Chadbon (former teacher), Stuart Pine (IT Manager at IT Donor, the Stephenson Group), and recent addition Bradley Mell (Originator & host of our Podcast series).

Originally, this blog was just going to be a few pictures & information about the day-to-day activities at both Pakati schools. However, after much consideration, and following consultations with a number of interested parties, I hereby present a report by Friends of Pakati regarding the two Pakati schools. The intention is to highlight various problems they face (here in Part 1), while also offering support to the schools to alleviate the most pressing issues, and come up with a longer-term outline of what can be done by supporters of the schools (later in Part 2).

The catalyst for this was the visit by active Friends of Pakati supporter & representative, Lorraine Mapuranga, to both Pakati schools as part of a recent trip to her home village nearby. Having advised me she wanted to revisit the school, I contacted both Heads – Mr Chifaka (Secondary) & Mr Mahachi (Primary) – to let them know she was planning to come.

As a result, she was given a very warm welcome at both schools, was shown round the buildings, met the staff & spoke to students in a number of classes from ECD at the Primary to Form 4 at the Secondary. Lorraine sent me a number of photos & short videos, and an honest report on what she saw & experienced as she went around the schools. She has also discussed everything with Vari Mayez of our partners, VaTonatsa Foundation, a local Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) which operates in Ward 14 of Murewa District, where the Pakati schools sit.

As Lorraine went round, it became clear that both Pakati schools face a number of problems, some of which are very similar, and I will talk about them & illustrate them with with images taken during the visit. It would be wrong however just to focus on negatives, and also wrong not to offer suggestions & potential help/support currently available or which can be arranged, both in the short & longer term. I want to give a genuine picture of what it is like at the schools, including the positive efforts being made by the staff, students and local community to improve the education of the students who attend Pakati schools.

First, let’s look at the Primary school:

Lorraine was shown round the Early Childhood Development (ECD) part of the school first. She spent some time with the teachers there – Mrs Dangaremba & Mrs Mandingaisa – and saw for herself the reality for students and teachers at Pakati Primary.

The staff highlighted the following issues for ECD learners in particular:

Play facilities – the playgounds need more play equipment for the learners to use. Funds are limited so progress is slow with this.

Attendance – some students do not attend every day, hindering their learning & development alongside their peers

Uniforms – there is a policy of learners wearing the same uniform, but some are not wearing the uniform

Packed lunch – some children bring a lunch, but others do not. This can affect their concentration & ability to learn

Head of the Primary Mr Mahachi showed Lorraine around the school, and that included the development of a water project which Friends of Pakati discussed im a previous blog – see here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/03/27/pakati-primary-school-updates-blog-part-2/ Also highlighted was the feeding programme by a local PVO to give all Primary students some nourishment each day. Mrahachi thanked the parents who took turnd to administer it.

Next, one of the larger problems at the Primary is the condition of some classrooms…the worst of which can be seen below:

In Lorraine’s own words, “We passed though one of the classes where students are learning from a part walled class. It was condemned and demolished after termites had made an anthill in the class and they are awaiting engineers to approve it’s renovations.”

There are some issuees which both Pakati schools face, and I will highlight them after we cover the Secondary school, where Mr Chifaka, the Head, met with Lorraine first, before she was shown round by Building teacher Mr Ediyeti.

Lorraine had this to say: “It was nice being back at my school for the first time proper after I left in 1992. I was first taken to a Form 4 A Class and I had some few words to encourage them to work hard in preparation for their exams.”

She also talked about serious issues with the students – such as peer pressure, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and looking after the school environment both inside & outside the classrooms. The state of some classrooms was raised, with paint & plaster coming off some walls, graffiti, and broken windows.

Next, she went to the Form 1 classes…where she was particularly affected by what she saw. In her own words again: “We moved to Form 1A Class where I also had time with them and encouraged then to start their secondary school on a high note and not be distracted by anything.

Form 1B was my next class where I was shocked to see students putting cloths on top of their uniforms, only to notice that there were no desks for them to sit at, hence the need to use our own African wrapping cloths.

Later we visited Mr Ediyeti’s building site and he showed me around. He told me his class did well with a pass rate of 75%. He however stated that better results could have been obtained if the students were using recommended cement bricks. They are currently using clay-made bricks which are no longer recommended by the Ministry.

So he told me they need about 10 bags of cement to mould bricks since they have the moulding forms already. The few cement bricks that they have are not enough to cater for all students. they also require additional building materials and a shade for the Buiding site as the work for exam students were affected by rain before it was marked thereby affecting the pass rate.”

Lorraine stated how happy she was to see the schools functioning as well as they can in the circumstances, with teachers working hard & children engaged in their learning, from ECD classes up to Form 4. Also, Mr Chifaka reported to me that results at the Secondary school, although low, showed an improvement on the previous year

So, having seen what is happening at the individual schools, it is time to highlight problems faced by both. The principle shared issues are these: Water, Power, Funds

Water – the main borehole used by both schools has a ‘rusty’ taste to it, so nearby wells are being used until other boreholes can be safely used.

Power – according to Lorraine “…there is a serious power crisis at the schools as mentioned earlier on on the other blogs . The transformers are not working and the solar power system has issues, so the school is in total darkness. I saw a very compromised security system causes by the total darkness, and teachers do not even have lights nor do they have anywhere to charge phones. The computers have since been packed away for safety since they are currently not in use in both schools”

Funds – some parents are not paying their school fees in good time, and even some of those students sponsored by the Basic Education Scheme are in a similar position. The problem then for the schooks is that inflation steadily erodes the value of tjose fees, meaning planned investment is often curtailed.

Let me thank everyone at both Pakati schools for their warm welcome to our representative, and to Lorraine herself for the pictures, the information and her report to me. A thoroughly interesting visit which hopefully will bring much-needed support in the future.

Part 2 to come

Part 2 of this will talk about what needs to be done, where support can come from, who can help in what ways, and will offer a positive & inclusive response to all the challenges outlined in this first part.

Here from Lorraine is why the report is important to Friends of Pakati: “I also visited the Computer lab which is one of the grade 6 Classrooms. All is well but the problem is of computers not being in use. We also went to Grade 1A and B classes. The teachers there were also concerned about the computers that are not in use. They both said computers had opened up the young brains when they were first availed to the schools and now that they are not working the children are already behind with technology.”

Join us in Part 2 in a few days…

Author:

My name is Chris Walker, and between January 1989 and September 1991 I worked, through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), at Pakati Secondary School in Murehwa South district in Zimbabwe. I was a Maths teacher for 2 years, the Acting Head for the last 8 months there. I have also taught in Botswana & the UK, had 4 years working for VSO, and have been a Civil Servant in Bradford since 2005. I married a Zimbabwean woman & we have 2 sons.

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