In the vlog, we learn more about Brad, the newest member of the Friends of Pakati team. Have a listen, before moving on to Podcast 9, which is what Brad had intended to discuss on the vlog! You will see what I mean…
Officially, below is our 9th podcast, and it covers more about my time as Acting Head of Pakati Secondary school in 1991, and some of what I did after leaving. Listening back, perhaps I should have said something about how I felt about leaving…no doubt Brad will pick up on it in a future podcast.
Here are the pictures I took as slides mentioned it the audio above:
Pictures show the school celebrating the official opening of the water project (ZBC & British High Commission vehicles trying to shade from the sun), and students helping staff to put up the fencing, all under the watchful eye of the Head, Mr Samakomva.
Just this week I met with the MBA students at Hudderfiled University Business School who are doing their consultancy project with Friends of Pakati. Updates soon!
Welcome to this week’s blog! We have recently been looking at the situation at both Pakati schools, and in response to the recent report (link to previous 2 blogs) I looked at our Vision:
To advance the education of the pupils at Pakati Primary and Secondary schools in Ward 14, Murewa District, Zimbabwe, by providing and assisting in the provision of facilities for education at the schools named. This can be in the areas such as IT and auxiliary equipment, internet access, and any such educational, sporting, and practical materials as the schools may need.
It is clear that we, as Friends of Pakati, should always consider what the schools themselves see as their priorities, and after discussing with our key supporters – the Heads of both schools, plus the 4 main contributors – Bothwell Riside, Lorraine Mapuranga, Debbie Chadbon & Stuart Pine, along with Councillor Israel Maliki – we are looking to use the funds we have raised to help the schools with what they need most at present. We are also consulting on the practicalities this will require dealing with. More details on this below.
We can see from the recent pics above from the Secondary school, and from reading previous reports/blogs, that the Solar power provision at both Pakati schools are not working. So, following the discussions we have had, we have decided that it would be better to fund the repair/replacement of the Solar power system at both schools. Here is why we have made that decision:
• The funds we currently have available are not likely to be enough to cover the cost of transporting at least 20 PC’s & their mouse/screen/cables – likely to cost around £3500 or more
• The schools cannot currently use the IT they have due to lack of power, both from ZESA and solar supply
• Getting the solar supply running again at both schools will help the teachers as well as the students
• Using our funds wisely, we can help both schools
Bradley Mell of Iron Bru & Friends of Pakati podcasts fame interviews ex-Iron player Neil Cox as the Author looks on
Cost of putting on event Friends-of-pakati’s event :
Venue hire & food £545.00
Sponsorship/donations before £450.00
Sales before £200.00
Ticket sales £163
Raffle sales £116.90
Sales of goods £110.00
Profit for Friends-of-pakati
Still got items to sell & donations promised
Daniel Walker & Evie Gallagher from the band E.v.i.e. who played at the event
Welcome to our 8th Podcast – an unusual one this time – the Author’s son Daniel!
Why Dan I hear you ask? Well, as well as helping set up the first computers were donated to us in 2019, Dan’s connection to Friends of Pakati began with our tag line which he came up with – ‘Helping the wonderful students of Pakati schools in Zimbabwe’
Now, in the lead up to our next fundraising event this Satutday, Dan is performing for us. He is in a band called E.v.i.e. with singer/songwriter Evie Galagher, who sometimes play as just an acouatic duo.
So, without further ado, here is the podcast:
Evie & Dan are playing a set as part of the previously-advertised ‘An Evening With…’ seen in the posters below:
Many of my fellow fans of Scunthorpe United – the Iron – Got Tied Up For Pakati on 23rd April! Over that weekend we raised over £1000 for Friends of Pakati, boosting our total funds significantly.
Great support from Iron fans!
Thanks to the newest member of our ‘team’, Bradley Mell, we now have an ever-growing series of podcasts. Initially they were Brad interviewing the Author, in Episodes 1-3. Since then, we have spoken to team members Lorraine Mapuranga, Bothwell Riside, & Debbie Chadbon, plus another with close connections to Pakati, Pastor Aggie Fombo.
In addition to the audio podcasts, we have also done our first video podcast (above) – the first of many we hope!
We have had reports from both schools, firstly from the two Heads – Mr Chifaka (Secondary) & Mr Mahachi (Primary). Here is what they sent to me, outlining an issue which would become significant in the second report.
The solar power systems at both Pakati schools are in need of upgrading
The second report is more comprehensive, & comes in two parts. Lorraine Mapuranga, member of our team, is responsible to a large degree for the 2-part report following her visit to both schools recently.
This week’s blog was going to be a follow up to the previous two, which reported on both Pakati schools. More on this further down, but first…
Instead, we have some great news to report on!
Just this week it was confirmed to me that the University of Huddersfield Business School has accepted our request to become part of their Consultancy Project. Some students have been selected to contact me next week, to discuss how they can help, advise, and support us. They will regularly report on progress, before presenting their recommendations in mid September at the University.
The areas where I have asked for help from the Consultancy are as follows:
Becoming a registered charity – this has been something I have wanted to do for some time, but it seems I never have enough time to get the important background work done
Fundraising ideas/activities – in need of new ideas, different events both large and small
Online presence – is our website fit for purpose? Are we using the right social media platforms? Are we getting the best out of them?
Marketing strategy – need to tie everything we do together, turn it into a brand with clear plans, to generate more followers, donors & sponsors
I have to say this is a very exciting prospect for me! I can hardly wait to meet the students who are getting involved with Friends of Pakati & see what they come up with – and I hope we can help them succeed as this is an important element in their coursework.
I will update you on what goes on from time to time.
Our next fundraising event is going ahead on Sat 9th July in my home town of Scunthorpe…
Our guest speaker to be interviewed by the Iron Bru Podcast team is none other than ex-Scunthorpe United player & Iron legend – NEIL COX!
Neil is seen above wearing his friendsofpakati.com t-shirt, stood between the Author and his son Daniel.
Dan is also performing at the event as part of the acoustic duo, E.v.i.e. featuring Evie Gallagher.
The question we face is multi-layered, but boils down to how best we use our funds to benefit the two Pakati schools. Is it best to stick to the main aim of transporting IT out to Pakati, or, given the reported power shortages stopping them from using those computers already there (among many other things), should we change focus to helping them get their power supply restored?
There are discussions going on about this wuth all interested parties, including the practicalities involved and also how the local protocols are to be followed if we do go down this route. Much more on this is coming up in a future blog, as is a 6-month review of Friends of Pakati very soon!
While working in Africa, I often heard the phrase ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’, but in this case, I would re-write that as ‘It takes the whole community to raise a school’
Welcome to the second part of our Report on the two Pakati schools, Primary and Secondary. For the purposes of this part, when I refer to Pakati I mean both schools together. In terms of ourselves – Friends of Pakati – we see them as one entity, and whatever we do, it is meant to support both schools where practical. As a reminder of part 1. Here is the link to last week’s blog:
Once more I would like to thank those who have contributed to the discussions about the challenges, including some of our principal supporters such as the two Heads (Mr Chifaka & Mr Mahachi), Lorraine Mapuranga (our representative) and Vari Mayez (from our partner organisation, VaTonatsa Foundation) among others. I will try to come up with an overall plan, made up of the short-term & long-term actions, why they are needed, who is best placed to take on board those actions, and what benefit they would be to the students themselves, the staff who work there, and the community at large whose children are educated there.
The catalyst for this report has to be the meeting between Lorraine & Vari, where they discussed the recent visit to the school by Lorraine a former student at Pakati between 1990 & 1993. She had been to spend some time with relatives & family friends in the area, and decided to see the schools on behalf of Friends of Pakati. I arranged for her to be met & welcomed by both Heads, and she was given a full tour of the schools. She saw how things were, what the staff were trying to do to educate the children, and what challenges they all face. So, what next?
How much help do the schools need? Who can best help? Is it all a matter of money? Let me break it down by what I see as the main areas of challenge, and how everything fits in to a bigger picture. Right at the centre of the bigger picture, should be one thing: The Student & the Learning Environment.
Allow me to demonstrate what I am talking about:
So, from the above diagram, it gives a clear picture of what can affect the student and his/her ability to learn. It also allows us to look & see who can help with which part(s).
For Pakati schools, like many others in Zimbabwe, the Government recruits & trains the Head and the Teachers, and sets the Curriculum, including guidance on how to deliver it. Much of the remainder – the internal & external environment of the school & its facilities – will come from elsewhere, usually the local community itself via school fees, and practical help where appropriate.
Organisations like Friends of Pakati & VaTonatsa Foundation are charitable organisations with similar interests in the area, and will usually try to support the schools with necessary items rather than money, i.e. IT equipment (F.o.P.) and Revision Booklets (V.F. & F.o.P. together). We are jointly looking to help with library books and sports equipment where we can.
The parents & local community provide essential support through school fees, and things like redecorating the buildings, or delivering the free porridge drinks donated to all Primary students.
For the charitable organisations, we rely on our ability to raise funds in order to be able to deliver the support we can. The more we raise, the more we can help, particularly on the more expensive items such as IT & sports equipment, plus things like repairs/replacement for the power supply. It is a serious question – do we continue to implement our main purpose – delivery of donated IT equipment – or do we use the money raised to restore a good power supply, as without it, the IT doesn’t work, as mentioned in Part 1 of this report.
With more funds, we could also help support the most vulnerable & most disadvantaged children in the community by providing scholarships, uniforms, basic equipment etc., and/or we could spread our support to other local schools in a similar position. Those are certainly the intentions of both organisations as we aim to work ever more closely together, always with the consent of local authorities & the community.
One of the issues Pakati faces is around the school fees. At the beginning of the school year in January, the schools draw up a list of priorities for development & equipment, with a budget which they hope to have in order to achieve their aims. This comes from the estimates of how many students there will be, and how much they will pay. As Zimbabwe faces a relatively high level of inflation at present, then if the fees are not paid quickly, then the value of the fees reduces over time & Pakati will not be able to buy as much as they want or need – thus they end up being short of desks, of books, of essential equipment for practical subject. This can then be exacerbated when larger items need replacing or repairing – power supply, classroom blocks, staff accommodation, etc.
Having spent some time living at Pakati myself, I am very much aware of the community & its situation, which is that it is largely a subsistence farming area, reliant on crops for food & to sell any surplus. It is highly dependent on good weather patterns during the various planting seasons, in order for the parents to be able to pay school fees, buy uniforms, provide school items & whatever else is needed.
Usually, the main harvest of maize & other staple crops is at the end of the rainy season, usually around April/May time….meaning school fees are often delayed, or in a bad year, cannot be afforded at all. So by the time the fees are collected, they are already of lower value than in January. There is a Department of Social Welfare which administers some support to underprivileged children, but sometimes this can also be late getting to the schools too.
So. What can be done? Well, I think an overall plan needs to be put in place, covering the areas which those of us outside Government can do to help Pakati – and maybe other local schools ultimately – which will complement the Government’s efforts and will help to to improve the school for all concerned – the students themselves, the parents who invest in their children’s education, the community itself, which will benefit from a better-educated population as those students grow up & head to the family farms, or local businesses, or further education, or employment in the urban areas, or head abroad for pastures new – the tradition of supporting younger siblings or older relatives will further enhance the community at large. But…
…it requires EVERYONE to play their part. The community will only ever be as strong as its weakest links.
The Head and the teachers need to play their part, and the school and communjty need to make sure those staff have what they need, including accommodation & access to various facilities.
The parents themselves need to value education, and try to support their children’s learning at home as well as at school. Provide them with uniforms, equipment, make sure they attend, and just as important, pay thr fees as quickly as possible.
The community itself can do a lot for the achools, operating the Development Committees, Old Students Association, providing practical.help when & where they can.
Charitable Organisations can try to help with things like IT, sports equipment, look for funds to help with larger items – such as repair of power supplies, and wi-fi/internet – and search for donations, for things like desks, chairs library books.
The students themelves have their own part to play…maintaining the grounds, cleaning, clearing awau rubbish – but also NOT doing things to damage the learning environment – no grafiti, no littering, no pulling off the cememt on walls, not breaking windows & doors – taking pride in themselves and their school.
It is my suggestion that we convene some kind of meeting to discuss things one of the days during my visit in September with interested parties. Let us see how we can all come together, talk about what it will take to improve things at Pakati for the students, staff & community at large.
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.”
Welcome to our 7th Podcast, hosted once more by Friend of Pakati Bradley Mell & myself. This time we feature someone who has often contributed articles to us, and has been very supportive of our endeavours – Pastor Rev Aggie Fombo Maravanyika!
Here she tells us about her time at Pakati Primary school, later when she was in South Africa, then her return to Zimbabwe in 2019. She speaks openly about her faith, her ministering, and her work with the disadvantaged & disabled children through her charity work in the Old Mutare farming area.
Bradley & I really enjoyed conducting this interview, so the best thing to do now is to hear Aggie in her own words…
Below are some photos from Aggie to help us illustrate her story. At the foot of it all are details of some of our potential participants in future podcasts
Below is a short video from Aggie’s Charity work, the Vanopaishe Foundation
Much of what Aggie has discussed can be seen in our photo gallery above, but some also can be found in her previous contributions here at Friends of Pakati:
Stuart Pine, IT Manager for the Stephenson Group from Leeds, key donors of IT to Friends of Pakati, seen above with the Author
Former Deputy Head of Pakati Secondary school, Tinashe Pindura, seen above with the Author, September 2019
Roj Rahman, seen above between the Author & his son, a businessman in Scunthorpe who is a keen supporter & sponsor of Friends of Pakati
…and a pleasant surprise for me recently was being contacted by a former colleague in 1989 – front row, second from the right – Laston Murwira!
There is also a second video of the Author & podcast host Bradley Mell, likely to come out soon, where I turn the tables on Brad & interview him! We are planning a third one though, as there are things he wants to discuss with me – developments at the school when I was there, my time in Botswana, my MA for example.
Finally, in other news, I hear a Friend of Pakati is due to visit the two Pakati schools tomorrow & will send me some photos & updates to put out on the blog.
After one of those interviews, I was asked if I would like to do a longer one, on one of their day-time shows called 1-2-1, hosted by Carole Moss. This involved giving them a brief biography, and I had to choose 8 pieces of musuc to illustrate the story. Naturally I said YES PLEASE! and below is the result…
Welcome again to our Friends of Pakati Podcast series, and I am delighted that we – our host Bradley Mell and myself – managed to speak to Debbie Chadbon. Debbie was one of the teachers who came after me through VSO, and she talks at length about her time at the school in the early 1990’s.
Debbie creating her World Map on the end of the then newly-completed classroom block
Here is Episode 6:
Debbie with some of her students in 1992
The World Map was repainted when the school was redecorated in 2017, and as I found out in 2018 & 2019 it still generates interest in the area
After a covid-enforced delay, Debbie managed to raise funds for us in 2021 with a sponsored Cycle Ride in the Bristol area where she lives
Enjoying a cup of tea in her newly-acquired Friends of Pakati mug back in 2021
Thank you Debbie!
Episode 7 has been recorded – featuring a frequent contributor to this blog, Pastor Rev Aggie Fombo. Editing is underway, and thanks to Aggie for sending new pictures, I will release it as a ‘special’ before too long. Aggie’s lively personality shines through, as you will hear…
Just this week. I also heard from someone I have not spoken to since 1990….one of my former colleagues from my first year at Pakati! I am hoping to get him on to the podcast in a few weeks. More details to come soon