Pakati Primary latest developments!

Written by Chris Walker:


With my thanks to the Head Teacher, Mr Mahachi, Friends of Pakati are delighted to bring the stories of recent developments at Pakati Primary school. We always want to tell of interesting news about the schools & community, as it is important to show that life in rural Zimbabwe is not static or one-dimensional. 

Today we bring together a number of elements, including more about the installation of WiFi at the school (see ), the drilling of a new borehole with a water tank & solar powered pump, plus how these things were planned and agreed by the school and its community. 

WiFi being installed at Pakati Primary school recently.

As seen here the WiFi was part of a local initiative to bring rural Primary schools into the digital age. The small number of PCs Friends of Pakati provided in 2019 will help, but getting more IT out to them & the Secondary school is our priority. 

Having a good supply of clean drinking water is also an essential requirement for the students at Pakati Primary; and the school has been proactive here too. See pictures below showing the drilling, the solar panel, and construction of the water tank.

The whole of the school community – staff, students and parents – have been involved in discussions about these developments, as well as on more regular school concerns like the Curriculum. Pictures below show some of those discussions going on.

Interesting times at Pakati Primary school!

More of Debbie’s Pakati Pictures

Written by Chris Walker:


Greetings to you from Friends of Pakati! We find ourselves in June already, with things going on in the background to help us raise more funds; which will of course enable us to support both Pakati schools where they need us to.

In the meantime, I found myself looking once more at the photos which Debbie Chadbon shared with me earlier this year. You can read about our meeting here also you can see more of her pictures here

These are some of the students at Pakati Secondary school in 1992, as photographed by Debbie in class. It is their fellow students now at the school and its sister Primary school, who Friends of Pakati was set up to support, primarily to provide some basic IT equipment. Since then we have also provided sports gear, t-shirts and help to restore solar power. We hope to do much more in the future for the schools.

The pictures below show a number of things which bring back so many memories for me – the state of the school buildings, staff and students relaxing in and around school and the community, Debbie having visits from family & friends from the UK…

I had visits from friends, but most importantly for me, two visits from my parents. I was delighted they had come to see me, to see Zimbabwe, but essentially to see where I lived & worked at Pakati Secondary school. It helped greatly whenever we talked about it years later, they understood far more about my reasons for being there, and what the conditions were like. It became clear to me just what an impact it had on both of them. This was in 2019 when we uncovered my Mum’s written notes about it after she had passed, and again this year as we cleared my parents’ home following my Dad’s passing in late December 2022. We found so much more – photos, slides and memorabilia from their two trips. Both are remembered as Friends of Pakati here on the blog… find out about them here: plus 2 posts about my Dad  and

More to come from the blog soon…

Ward 14 Primaries schools making progress!

Written by Chris Walker:

In recent months, here at Friends of Pakati, we have reported on a number of promising developments in the area where the Pakati schools lie – Ward 14 in the district of Murewa. It is worth bringing it all together to show what has been going on there. There are 3 Primary schools in the Ward – Chanetsa, Mapanga & Pakati. Their Head teachers have often messaged me with information, stories and photos or short videos. We have been delighted to post much of this material. 

Mr Kadzimu (Head of Chanetsa Primary school) shakes hands with the Author, September 2022 as we handed over a Chromebook & some t-shirts.

What we have also been delighted about, is the opportunity we had in September/October 2022 to visit all 3 schools (as well as Chanetsa & Pakati Secondaries – we will cover both of them in a separate blog). The Heads are Mr Kadzimu (Chanetsa), Mrs Maenzanise (Mapanga) and Mr Mahachi (Pakati), and we are very grateful to them all & their colleagues for their contributions to the blogs over the years.

Mr Mahachi (Head of Pakati Primary) receiving items donated by Friends of Pakati, September 2022.


Having visited &  donated goods to the schools, Friends of Pakati has been keen to follow their progress. In the months since our visit last year, all 3 Primary schools now have affordable Wi-fi – a tremendous development for all Primary school children in Ward 14.


Chanetsa, Pakati & Mapanga have all got new WiFi installations in place in the last 6 months, all the Heads of the 3 schools are delighted. They all see the development as very positive for their students, as they progress through the school systems they will become more IT literate.

All of this is great to hear about, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems – there are. For Pakati Primary in particular, the solar power issue is holding back the school from getting the most out of the WiFi & few computers they have. We need people to help us, help them by donating to or

Mrs Maenzanise with the Author in September 2022.

Mapanga Primary has also been able to complete a building project recently for flush toilets with a septic tank, which has been going on for some months. More pictures from Mapanga are below:

It is always good to report positive news from the area’s schools, and we hope to bring more good news to you in future blogs. We also look to show things improving, and to show the reality of life at these schools as it currently is, and talk to people who have links to Pakati schools in some way. Keep reading!


Wifi at Pakati Primary, Man at T&A and other stories…

Written by Chris Walker:

Greetings all…welcome to this week’s blog!

Some very good news! Recently, Pakati Primary school were the recipients of a government initiative, whereby they are trying to provide internet services to rural primary schools. The wi-fi was installed by government parastatal ZARNET/TELONE. Installation is done to schools who apply for the facility. Information & pictures are courtesy of Mr Chorichi of Pakati Primary school.

Also recently, I met with someone who has been a very keen supporter of Friends of Pakati. Yusef Alam was, until this week, a journalist working for my local newspaper  the Bradford Telegraph & Argus (known locally as the T&A). Thanks to Yusef, we had a number of positive articles published in the paper, and we chatted for some time about how Friends of Pakati has benefitted from the exposure.

In the lead up to our fundraising event in 2022 – Get Tied Up For PAKATI – see the paper promoted our cause, leading to us getting over £1100 donated. Yusef also published articles about our trip to hand over goods donated in September/October 2022 here:

This post is therefore to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Yusef for all his help, and wish him success in his new role as a TV researcher.

Delving into Debbie Chadbon’s photos – see – has brought back several memories for me. I have recently posted some on our instagram account (@friendsofpakati), but let me include some more on here:

Taken from Gwangwadza hill, where there are some rack paintings dating back at least 1500 years, Pakati schools are barely visible in the distance in the picture above. Below are pictures of the hill & some of the rock paintings. It is a place I visited often myself.

Debbie took many photos of life at Pakati, which took me back to my own time there, but a couple I posted on Instagram reminded me of the small scale development project I was involved in back in 1990 & 91…only the borehole still survives sadly.

This is the only photo I have seen of the water tank we put up, long since dismantled.

Very common in the area, but not popular among residents around Pakati!

More to follow in the next blog!

Debbie’s Photos

Written by Chris Walker:

Following a recent visit to Bristol, where 3 Friends of Pakati (Debbie Chadbon, Chris, and Lorraine Mapuranga) met up together in a reunion for the first time in 30 years or more. We talked a lot about our experiences at the Secondary school, covering 1989 to 1993 as teachers, Acting Head, and as a student. There is a blog out covering the reunion, but I thought it would be great to post some of Debbie’s photos. 

She has a couple of large photo albums from her time in Africa, about half of which is dedicated to Pakati in particular. I have posted quite a few of my own on our page not long ago, but I will add several of Debbie’s soon after this is published here on the blog. Let me start with my own favourite picture from her collection:

This is a very familiar view for me, taken just outside the house I stayed in, & Debbie had the same room as me after I had left when she was at Pakati from September 1991 to August 1993. 

The main difference for me is that the classroom block seen on the right of the picture above is complete, whereas it was unfinished throughout my time. VSO had helped to pay for some of the finishing touches needed, so it was officially opened in 1992, as seen in the next photo.

This was the building on which Debbie painted her World Map, now used as one of our images on our merchandise

Debbie has a few photos taken while she was creating the Map. She said to me that she wasnt’t really much of an artist, but someone had told her it was relatively easy to do – just get a map, divide it into squares, lightly add the same number of larger squares onto the wall, then copy the contents of each square on the wall in outline, and fill it in! Debbie says she didn’t feel particularly safe stood on the metal barrel balanced on top of two desks, but thankfully there were no mishaps.

She did have help from some of her students, and it took around 5 or 6 weekends to complete. Friend of Pakati stalwart Bothwell Riside was still young at the time, but he distinctly remembers being surprised by the fact that she did her painting left-handed!

Debbie was not alone as a VSO volunteer for her first year – her colleague Jayne Beattie seen in the right hand picture, had 12 months at the school, but had to leave earlier for personal reasons. 

Life at the school as depicted by Debbie is a reminder to me of my own experience at Pakati. For example, teachers & students gathering outside the house to talk, cook, keep warm, etc.

It was great to wind down at the end of the day with colleagues, or enjoy the slow pace of life over the weekend with some students passing by. 

Life inside the classrooms was also very familiar to me, teaching was a challenge given the circumstances, but also a real pleasure because of the students themselves. 

Debbie joined in with everyday life at Pakati, pretty much as I did. We shared accommodation with local colleagues, so cooked & ate together on a daily basis.

There are so many more photos from Debbie’s album archive, so keep an eye out on Instagram using the tag @friendsofpakati in the coming days to see more about her stay at Pakati Secondary school!

3 Friends of Pakati re-united!

Written by Chris Walker:

Two former teachers and one former student from Pakati Secondary school met up very recently here in the UK – and we spent a lovely weekend reminiscing & story-telling about our experiences back in 1991, 92 & 93. It has been a real bonus to have the support from both for Friends of Pakati.

Chris Walker, Lorraine Mapuranga & Debbie Chadbon.

Over a recent weekend, the Author travelled to Bristol from his home in Bradford, a journey which took around 6 hours. At the same time, Lorraine Mapuranga travelled from her work in the South East of England to the same place – the home of Debbie Chadbon in Bristol. 

Between 1990 & 1992 Lorraine was taught by both Debbie & myself at Pakati Secondary school, but the last time we all met would have been 1992. I visited the school briefly then, took some photos, and talked to Debbie about how she & her VSO colleague Jayne Beattie were getting on there.

Debbie took us around Bristol by bus & walking.

We visited the harbour, walked around the city centre, and ate in a local cafe, all before heading off to see an engineering masterpiece by Isambard Kingdom Brunel – the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon. The gorge created by the river over time is very impressive, and the bridge is a hugely popular tourist attraction for the city of Bristol. 

Debbie & Lorraine at the Bridge.

The main focus of the weekend however, was all things Pakati-related. In 1992 Debbie had helped Lorraine, and they had become friends. Debbie visited her at her home several times, and this is covered in a number of previous posts featuring both of them.

This blog has, over time, used many of my own personal photos & slides when telling my stories, or adding to others tales. I now find that Debbie has a good number of her own photos, some of which I have already used. This weekend past has allowed me to take photos of her photos so I can use them in future blogs. Below are some pictures from our get-together.

Debbie with Lorraine, and with Chris.

Another Great Surprise For Me!

Written by Chris Walker:


Greetings dear friends & followers. After a difficult time for Friends of Pakati, I finally got a really pleasant surprise in the last two weeks! I have had a number of issues to deal with, not least of them being my bereavement following my father’s passing & funeral fairly recently, and difficulty with my access to the Friends of Pakati website (still ongoing). I am immensely grateful to all members of our team for their wonderful support in all matters!

So, about two weeks or so ago, I heard from a certain teacher who was at Pakati Secondary for the year 1990. He shared the same house me, and we definitely became good friends. I was very disappointed when he did not return to us in 1991, but that was very common with temporary teachers during that time. His name? Mr Takawira Siyawamwaya… I am sure students present at the time will remember him!

The house on the left was where I stayed with colleagues including Mr Siyawamwaya.

The start of 1990 was, as I recall, typical of rural schools in Zimbabwe at the time. Some staff had stayed, whereas others moved on. I remember Mr Syawamwaya joining the school, along with a Mr Mutimbanyoka, and they were always friends it seemed to me. Also there were Mr Tsuro, Mr Kamuti & Mr Mango new to Pakati, along with established teachers like Mr Samakomva (Head), Mr Nyamauya (Deputy), Mr Choga & Mr Gororo. 

Mr Siyawamwaya moved in to the house I stayed in, and we hit it off very quickly. As with my former housemates from 1989 (Mr Mutatapasi & Mr Chirape) we usually cooked together. Obviously, I could not cook the local staple food so Siyas (for short) would do that, and I would cook either the meat or the sauce/relish. So we nicknamed each other Mr Sadza (him) & Pakati Chef (me) as he just reminded me the other day! More of his memories further down…I wanted to know what he has been doing since he left Pakati at the end of 1990. Where did he go first?

Well he has travelled quite a distance since leaving Pakati…he went to teach at Chipinda Secondary school in Mureha District, where he stayed until the end of 1993. He tells me that while there, he successfully applied to Mutare Teachers College, training to become a teacher between 1994-1996. Following this, he was deployed to Mufudzi Wakanaka school, in Chivhu District, not far from Wedza, where he was now qualified to teach both English and the local language, Shona.

Mr Siyawamwaya in the school grounds at Hokodzi Secondary school.

He recently told me “I transferred to Chitowa in the Murehwa District in 2000, from where I moved to Hokodzi Secondary school in 2004, and I have been there since.” Below is a map, showing the proximity of Hokodzi and Pakati schools…I can remember visiting Hokodzi for inter-school sports during my time in Zimbabwe, only last year I passed through Kadzere Township a couple of times. If I had known Siyas was there, I would definitely paid him a visit!

Pakati on the left, Hokodzi on the right. They are around 10km apart.

During his time at Hokodzi he did further studies, at Africa University in Mutare between 2013 & 2015, graduating with a B. Ed. degree in English. I am very impressed by this as he was also Acting Head at Hokodzi for 10 years up to 2017, and since then he has been Acting Deputy Head. 

Siyas at his home.

I asked him to tell me more about himself, and here is what he told me: “I now stay in my village, with my wife Betty and I walk the 6km to & from school every day. I am married to a woman from my area  and we have 3 children. First born is a boy, Edward (1997), who is in Harare doing software engineering with a local company. Second we have a girl, Helen (2002) who completed O Levels (GCSE) and is still staying at home looking to do further studies. Third is another boy, Anotidaishe (2011), currently in Grade 5 at Primary school. For me with Betty it was love at first sight, we lived in adjacent villages. It took time to get her consent but she was beautiful, very much worth marrying, which we did in 1997”

Back to some more of his memories of his time at Pakati now…I asked him about it, and mentioned things like cooking, colleagues & the store nearby which had just opened that year in January, here are some of his comments, reflecting some of the realities in Zimbabwe at the time:

“When you asked me to share the kitchen & food, I was hesitant because I had never had such experience with a white man. I was particularly impressed by your selflessness as you literally provided for my food. I remember the condiments, omelettes, and a French drink (Cointreau – an orange flavoured licquer I brought from duty-free after a visit home at the end of 1990). You didn’t eat bones (chicken mostly) as they were, you said, for the dogs! (I look back in horror sometimes…it was clear people ate what they wanted, & I should not have been so dismissive just because I didn’t eat them). You were indeed the Pakati Chef!

We also went to Chigwada (a small township of only a couple of stores in 1990) for parties, where you provided food, and revellers brought their own beers. We went climbing up into the hills nearby, particularly at Gwangwadza where the rock paintings are. You were indeed good to us all Chris, and we enjoyed being associated with a white man in rural Zimbabwe.“

Mr Siyamawaya outside his home not far from his school.

What I hope to do soon is get him on the phone, maybe on Zoom, and record a podcast with him, myself, and our regular podcast host Bradley Mell. 


Coming soon…

Our next few blogs will be about an imminent reunion for Friends of Pakati, plus maybe another slightly different one in the near future, a couple of potential new podcast guests – plus developments at Pakati Primary school – exciting times ahead for us!

Teacher Turnover in Schools

Written by Bothwell Riside

Longtime readers of the website, and listeners to the podcast, will know of Bothwell’s connection to Pakati. As a teacher in an international school in SE Asia, he occasionally publishes articles. As a Friend of Pakati we are delighted to share his work. This latest piece is on the effects of teacher turnover in schools.

Bothwell in Harare.


Teacher turnover refers to the phenomenon where teachers leave their current schools or positions and move to new ones. This can happen for a variety of reasons such as personal, professional, or financial. In many cases, high teacher turnover can have negative effects on the culture of an educational institution.

Douglas N. Harris, Scott J. Adams say that when teacher turnover is unusually high and this is a sign of failure in the education system. This means schools that are riddled with a higher teacher turnover show that there is a fissure somewhere in the school system. A school with a sound staff retention policy is likely to benefit from its current staff whom it is capable of developing professionally.

In order to understand the effects of high teacher turnover, it is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of high teacher turnover is that it can bring fresh ideas and perspectives into a school. New teachers can bring new teaching methods and approaches, which can help to revitalize the educational experience for students.

However, high teacher turnover also has several disadvantages. One of the most significant disadvantages is the disruption to the continuity of projects and programs within the school. When teachers leave, the school must spend time and resources finding and training new teachers, which can disrupt the educational experience for students. Additionally, when teachers leave, they take their knowledge, expertise, and relationships with them, which can lead to a loss of institutional memory and a decreased sense of community within the school. It is good for schools to always fight to keep their teachers wherever possible.

Another disadvantage of high teacher turnover is the potential negative impact on student achievement. Research has shown that students who have consistent, stable relationships with their teachers tend to have better academic outcomes than those who experience frequent teacher turnover (Boyd, Goldhaber, & Lankford, 2004). This is because students need time to build relationships with their teachers and establish trust, which can be difficult when teachers are constantly coming and going.

The impact of high teacher turnover can be even more pronounced in international schools. This is because these schools often serve a diverse student population and require a high degree of cultural competency from their teachers. When teachers leave, it can be difficult for the school to find replacement teachers with the same level of cultural competency, which can lead to a decrease in the quality of the educational experience for students.

Furthermore, high teacher turnover in international schools can also affect the recruitment and retention of students. When students and their families see a high teacher turnover rate, they may question the stability and quality of the school, which can lead to decreased enrollment and increased competition for new students.

In conclusion, high teacher turnover can have a significant impact on the culture of an educational institution. While it can bring fresh ideas and perspectives, it can also disrupt the continuity of projects and programs, lead to a loss of institutional memory, negatively impact student achievement, and impact the recruitment and retention of students. In order to mitigate these negative effects, it is important for schools to focus on creating supportive, stable environments for their teachers, and to invest in professional development programs that help to retain high-quality teachers.

References: Boyd, D., Goldhaber, D., & Lankford, H. (2004). The Drawback of Teacher Mobility: Evidence from North Carolina. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23(2), 267–293.


A link to Bothwell’s blog can be found here where you can read his other articles:

Latest news from Friends of Pakati

Written by Chris Walker:

Greetings everyone! Welcome to the blog, the first for two weeks. Unfortunately I have been ill for some days, but recovering well now. 

Because of this, I missed posting last week, and haven’t been able to record the podcast I had hoped to either. It will be rescheduled as soon as I can manage it.

Mrs Maenzanise at Mapanga Primary.

As you will remember, we have visited & donated some items to all 5 schools in Ward 14 in September last year. See here for details of some of those donations:

Recently, the head of Mapanga Primary school, Mrs Maenzanise, sent me some pictures from her school, with students wearing their new uniforms.

 A septic tank has been completed, and some flush toilets are being added according to Mrs Maenzanise.

Enough toilets are being built for staff and students alike.

Work is near completion for the first block! 

Mrs Maenzanise has been visiting friends & family in Chitungwiza recently, a high-density suburb of Harare. It is the height of the rainy season, which often means transport can be difficult as some roads become badly affected by the rains…

Many thanks to Mrs Maenzanise for all the information & photos!