12 months ago I arrived in Zimbabwe for a memorable visit, to bring the donated computers, equipment and football shirts to Pakati schools. I landed at RGM International Airport, Harare, to be met by my hostess for the first night, Donna.
The first day was not particularly warm in Harare, though the welcome certainly was. Donna’s two boys were very happy to see me as I had brought some gifts for everyone.
My hostess, below, Donna:
The donated goods were kept safe by Donna, securely stored away from prying eyes, until my arrival.
Next day, a Thursday, I travelled from Donna’s place in the Harare suburbs, setting off for Pakati with my good friend, Bothwell Riside. He was also my driver, host, companion, translator and guide whenever I needed. The journey to Pakati took around 2 hours with a couple of brief stops…here are some pics while travelling:
I finally made it down to the Secondary school, where they had been keenly awaiting our arrival. We set about unloading everything, before putting them in a secure room ready for the celebaration and formal presentation to the two schools and local community the next day.
We then set up some of thr equipment to make sure nothing had been damaged in transit.
Once everything was tried out and safely stored, I then joined my friend Bothwell at his family homestead very close to the Secondary school, where I was staying for the few days of my visit to Pakati. Once more I was made incredibly welcome, and could not have been better looked after at a 5* hotel.
There will be much more in the next post, as I look back at one of the most extraordinary days of my life, as I called it last year, a truly remarkable day at Pakati.
“Before I move on to my progression to A level, I want to add more about how Pakati Secondary school has helped me in my life. Firstly, there is the Headmaster, Mr Chifaka, who was also my accounts teacher. Although l got a disappointing symbol (C), I felt motivated by him because he used to say ‘the greatest disability is in the mind’. Also ‘if born in a poor family, a rich family must come out of you’. He shared with me a little of his background life before all the achievements he made academically. He also said that ‘your background does not determine your future. What you to today doesn’t mean you are going to die like that’. He emphasised on good associations and this has helped me a lot.
Indeed Pakati Secondary school molded my character, attitude, spiritual life. Mr Chizenya, History teacher and also my volleyball coach, took most of his spare time sharing good news concerning the gospel of the Trinity God . At primary level Mr Nyamahohwa, my best teacher ever, taught me more about character, attitude, purity, faithfulness, transparency, integrity, love …quoting from the book of 1 Corinthians 13. This molded me into a loyal and faithful woman like Ruth, have the bold spirit of Esther, and a submissive heart like Mary.
Mrs Pindura, the Deputy Head at Pakati Secondary school, took you to Chemhondoro?
Yes, l went with her to Murehwa Mission in Form 1 for my first time in office as a junior councillor, this was the second time. We were given a topic in advance then had to present it from memory as if you are already a councillor. The first topic was….how to eliminate harmful social practices affecting African children especially the girl child. My competitor was supposed to come from Chanetsa secondary, unfortunately but was an advantage to me as they never sent a representative.
How did you decide to become junior councillor?
It was not my choice… Mrs Pindura called me and another girl who was in Form 2 by that time, then she gave us an impromptu speech to make. At the end of the day she said ‘l will go with Portia’.
Ok, did you enjoy it? How long were you junior councillor?
Yes l enjoyed it a lot, l gained exposure and confidence from it which helps me today. I was a junior councillor for the 2 years at Pakati Secondary.
I recently returned for a visit to my home area, and passed through the school grounds.
I could not find much coverage for my phone network, but managed to do so at the fence marking the boundary to the Mapuranga homestead in Chidawaya village.
Having loved my time there, I would like to see more developments and improvements at Pakati, including to the Science education there. I feel if the lab was better equipped, they could teach individual Sciences – Physics, Chemistry, Biology – and perhaps several other subjects – up to A level there. In addition, more and better IT equipment would improve all aspects of education at both Pakati schools.
I moved to Zimre Park, in thr Harare suburbs, in February 2019, where l was going to serve as a housemaid. One Sunday in May, l had an encounter with Tanyaradzwa, a sister to Blessed Tema. He was the Headboy at Pakati Secondary, a friend and also a brother to me. l was surprised and filled with joy to meet her, since it was a long time without seeing each other.
She asked several questions without giving me any room to answer. “Do you stay here in Zimre, where are you going, what about O level results l know you were that bright to make it, are going to school or working?”. It was my off-day and l was on my way from church in Ruwa. l was alarmed and astonished with her questions. I asked myself why Tanya is much concerned with my life, my future indeed. I decided to lie to her that l just visited my aunt and l gave her house number.
The following day she came to work house and l told her the whole story. She said, “Portia do you want to go to A level?” I answered her with a big “YES”.
“Portia, leave everything to me ok, it will be fine with you alright. I have a brother who works at Rose of Sharon High School, he is a chaplain there. Tanya came back after lunch hour and said she had spoken to her brother. He had said that l have to go there on my own.
l went there on a Tuesday morning to meet him. He said that you are lucky the Director of Education, Dr Fatima Maruta is here in her office we can go to her with your story, after asking me few questions like where are my parents, what drove me to be a maid whilst l have passed my O levels.
Upon meeting Dr Maruta, my eyes flooded with tears. I saw her removing her spectacles to mop up tears down her cheek after hearing my story. Without wasting much time she said,”Portia, l offer you a full scholarship till you reach your destination, so tomorrow come prepared for schooling”. She jotted down all the necessities and the following day everything was there complete school uniforms of high quality and stationery.
l moved in to Rose of Sharon on 8 May 2019. Everything happened seemed as if l was acting or dreaming, l didn’t know or believe that l deserved something better, even more than that to be offered a full scholarship at a boarding school, not least because from me being a village girl from a rural day school at Pakati Secondary.”
Wow. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but as I was compiling this, I definitely had a tear in my eye…very moving indeed. There are, apparently, more parts to come in Portia’s story – life at Rose of Sharon, social life, and her ambitions for the future. Certainly a lot to look forward to!
• I have more to come from Debbie Chadbon about her planned fundraising
• Oscar Bumhe, Chairman of the road project committee at Murewa Rural District Council, about the ongoing development in Ward 14.
• There are also other stories still being prepared for publishing in the near future
There are some relatively small fundraising activities either planned or ongoing, which together will add to our ability to help the two Pakati schools. One larger event is planned as well. At the bottom of this post is a request for more ideas…
One is from former Pakati Secondary school teacher, Debbie Chadbon. She tells me that she grows a mixture of crops on her allotment, here is part of the message she sent me earlier:
“I am planning to have a harvest stall at a local sale trail selling homemade jams and chutneys and pumpkins we have grown on our allotment, to raise funds for Pakati.”
Later she sent this message: “I will take a picture of my allotment although it’s not looking it’s best as everything is beginning to die off now. I’ll also take some pictures of the stall on the day of the fayre. Every so often in our area they have a sale trail, where people can set up a stall outside their house and sell stuff – like a car boot fayre without the car. They produce a map on social media highlighting where all the stalls are. This time because it is harvest time they are also having tables in the local church grounds which you can hire and sell produce. Because we live in a cul de sac I didn’t think we would get much footfall so I have decided to hire a table in the church grounds. Hopefully the weather will be kind and fingers crossed it isn’t cancelled due to COVID (otherwise I’ll be giving lots of jam and chutney for Christmas presents!). I am planning on doing the Bristol 10K run next May. I have been going for a short run once a week but wouldn’t be up for 10K anytime soon! Best wishes Debbie”
The second is by a fellow Scunthorpe United fan Gary Lundie, who is based in Glasgow, Scotland. He has odered some unique badges for sale, and is publicising them on his twitter feed and facebook page.
Gary says he is willing to given a portion of his sales to Friends of Pakati (as well as local charities in Scunthorpe), and it is great of him to consider doing that for us – a big THANK YOU from Friends of Pakati👏👏. He has had a delivery of them and says they are selling well🤞
The question is, what should I, or we at Friends of Pakati, do to raise funds in the next 12 months? Could be something large or small, we will consider all thoughts before chosing. We are therefore asking for suggestions please…
We spent £2700 of that on items such as support for a sponsored walk, additional IT and ancilliary equipment to supplement the donations, plus storage and transportation of the various goods from here in the UK all the way to Pakati.
September 2019 was a very memorable time for all of us connected to Friends of Pakati, as we delivered the IT & sports goods to the schools with great celebration from the community and local dignitories.
In the year since then things have changed dramatically. We planned a number of fundraising events and discussed other ideas, most of which then became put on the back burner thanks to Corona Virus globally.
Some of the things we had planned were temporarily abandoned, postponed, as the events we were relying on – a 10km run and a football match – were called off.
However, one thing has been ongoing, is the Author’s challenge – to lose weight and ask people to donate for Friends of Pakati. Here is how it is going…
From a starting point of 113.4kg in mid-January to mid-September with a weight of 98.8kg means I have lost 14.6kg overall…this has lead to some if the donations in recent weeks
Firstly, Schools re-opening in Zimbabwe – Exam classes are re-starting at both Pakati Prinary and Secondary schools soon. There will be protocols in place to protect staff and students alike, see below:
A recent exchange of messages between myself and the Heads of the two Pakati schools is shown below:
“Good morning. Regarding the Questions you asked: Schools will open for exam classes, Cambridge (A levels) – 14 September and ZIMSEC (O levels and Grade 7) – 28 September. All teachers will be at school. There is a Covid 19 guide lines module prescribed by Education ministry in partnership with Health ministry (see image above). Other groups will subsequently come but there is no date yet. I think government and UNICEF will provide majority of PPEs, as yet we are still to know what exactly they will provide.
At the Secondary we are doing markings for individual desks (for social distancing). We are doing this as we wait for ministry’s assistance. We don’t know what we will get, but the schools are doing their best to meet the requirements.”
Secondly, there are some road improvements underway within Ward 14, into the area which includes the catchment area for Pakati schools:
First of all, let me thank the following people for their help in providing information, pictures, advice and/or contacts:
Alderman Israel Maliki (Councillor for Ward 14, Murewa), Mai Mapanga (Road Project Treasurer) and in particular, Oscar Bumhe (Chairman).
Full list of Committee members to be found withinthe following message I received from the Chairman, Oscar:
There are 2 areas of the road requiring special attention as identified by the Engineer. We require cement over 700bags of cement to fix these dilapidated areas. Our capacity to mobilize resources to this extent is now stretched to the limit. We have a fully fledged committee constituted as follows :
Oscar Bumhe – Chairman Eileen Chinyuku – vice chairlady Chris Gutsa- Treasurer Petros Majonga-Secretary Wiriranai Karimbika-logistics Other comittee members: Roderick Matemadombo (UK) Succeed Chikuvire(UK) Misheck Masango Enock Matemadombo Mrs Mapanga Maxmos Bosha Charles Jaji
We welcome any form of contribution that anyone can mobilize towards this communal initiative designed to improve the lives of the people of this community. Sky is the limit. We aim to further the development of our area resources permitting.
We are creating others too, including everything about the Schools – classrooms, equipment, IT, lessons, etc., also local area developments – roads, joint ventures etc. If other things appear appropriate, we will create more pages.
Forthly and finally for this post, part 2’s. There are a number of Part 2’s being prepared for the blog, including Portia Nemaruru, Mr Mutyavaviri, and Pastor Aggie Fombo. In addition, our storyteller Pauline Machengo will bring us more about her tale of life as a foreigner in South Africa. The next chapter is about Capetown life she tells me, particularly for tourists.
First let us hear ftom Mrs Pindura, Deputy Head of Pakati Secondary school:
“The blog is very insightful and refreshing. I like your vision of bringing the Pakati community and its alumni together through sharing stories on the blog. I have seen many people moved by your efforts on the blog enough to see your vision as it is and want to step ahead with you, e.g. donors who have given us computers, sports uniforms among many other things. Your efforts in facilitating all this and personal expenses incurred is very much appreciated. I like the fact that you have managed to mobilise local leaders to rally behind you because they have seen that you dont just talk but act well. Your word is to be trusted and for that we thank you. I hope more people chip in, more alliances continue to be forged, and I hope the blog continues to be interactive and flourish.”
Jim Coulson, freelance content writer, radio presenter and video maker, plus former Stadium Announcer at Scunthorpe United: “It’s amazing to see the great work going on through this project and everyone should be so proud of what they have achieved and are continuing to do. Also, I’m a big fan of spreading the word of Scunthorpe United far and wide too!”
Neal Campbell, Chair of the Scunthorpe United Official Supporters Club (SUOSC) told me recently that…: “I think the blog looks good. Hearing about other people’s perspective and how the blog works has been educational, how sending a message has truly enabled people to be empowered. You are truly inspirational to those who most need it.”
Recent follower of Friends of Pakati, Hoora Hajee, had this to say: ” Absolutely inspiring stories! The set up of the website is fantastic and easy to use too.”
Lervena Mkudu, another regular follower, messaged me not long ago: “You are doing a great job at Pakati”
Emmanuel sent us a lovely message a couple of weeks ago: “Very interesting and inspiring stories! I enjoyed reading them. Please continue with your efforts to uplift and make a positive change to the lives of the school children, and ultimately, community of the area. The impact will be felt for many many years to come.”
I am delighted to (re)introduce Mr Mutyavaviri, a recent former teacher at Pakati Secondary school. He is popular among former colleagues and students alike.. Firstly, I will repeat the brief profile he have us back in 2019, before adding much more information recently. Read & enjoy…
Staff Profile – Mr Mutyavaviri, Head of Humanities, teacher of Maths
Born: Kadoma, Mashonaland West
Trained: Belvedere Technical Teachers College (2008)
Specialist in Economics & Accounts, can teach Maths, Commerce & Business Studies
Teacher at Pakati: since 2011
Life at Pakati – It is OK, but would like a more reliable & perennial indoor water supply.
If I wasn’t a teacher….I would be a book-keeper, accounts clerk, data capture clerk or any other business/accounting related job
Hobbies/interests: watching movies, reading, and writing articles
Fact no-one knows about me: nobody knows or can believe that I used to be a vibrant gospel preacher
“Hi everyone, I hope I find you well. Here is a narrative story of my life at Pakati which comes in two parts. The first part focuses on how I joined Pakati and became a well known part of the Pakati Secondary school staff community.
In May 2011 I was deployed to Pakati Secondary as an Accounts and Commerce teacher, moving from Nyamashato Secondary in the same district of Murewa in Mashonaland East. I had been at Nyamashato for two years and wanted to move either to a school in Harare, or closer to Harare as I had just registered for my ACCA studies.
Nyamashato was too far from the city for me to do studies. I couldn’t find an immediate school in Harare to move to, instead I found a swap transfer to Pakati Secondary, which was a good move. When I got to Pakati, there was no Accounts at the school at that time, I was told that the teacher I had swapped with taught Commerce and Geography so I had to take those subjects.
I indicated to Mr Chingoriwo, the then Headmaster, that I couldn’t teach Geography so I was going back to the district, to tell them that they had sent me for a wrong deployment. Instead of letting me just go, he asked me the other subjects I could teach besides Accounts which wasn’t being offered.
Being a Commercials person, Maths was the only other subject at the school I could teach but there was already a teacher for Maths. Mr Chingoriwo made some internal arrangements to change the allocation for the then Maths teacher so that I could have a Maths and Commerce teaching load, and it worked out well.
A few days after joining the school, the Head tasked me to take up the responsibility of coaching the school senior boys soccer team. I’m generally good at most sporting activities undertaken in schools, but my passion is in baseball and volleyball. I tried to avoid the responsibility but after he indicated some technicalities, I accepted the role accordingly.
On meeting the soccer team, I enquired how the school team had been performing against other schools, and was told that it had been long since the team managed to get through to finals at zonal competitions as there were bigger High schools in the zone (Musami High and Chemhondoro High) which always dominated. I set a target that we would reach finals at the zonal competitions that year (2011) as I needed time to get to know the students, and that the following year (2012), we would reach finals at district competitions.
My target seemed outrageous as there where 9 schools in our zone that time, Pakati secondary being one of the small ones and beating Chemhondoro and Musami was something the students didn’t envisage. I had to work extra hard to achieve the target. I focused much on training physical fitness and building a team spirit. On the zonal competitions day, we beat Chemhondoro in the semi finals and were beaten by Musami in the finals. Wow, thank God for answering my prayers, my first target at the school was just a success.
The local community noticed the achievement. Next was to focus on how I would manage to get the school team to reach district competitions the following year. My players needed to be motivated, so I pleaded with the head for the school to procure a new soccer uniform for the boys. Seeing the passion I had and the performance of the team at the ended zonal competitions, the head promised to work on my request.
In 2012, I started training the team during the last weeks of first term. During the same period, the school gave us funds for a new soccer uniform, I chose a Barcelona uniform and the team was nicknamed Baca. This was motivational to the players. I would take the boys to a steep dwala (small hill) in Chinhoyi village near Mr Baye’s home.
My thrust was to have a physically invincible team because it wasn’t going to be easy for a small school like Pakati. To beat all the other 8 schools in our zone and proceed to district competitions was something I believed was possible. God started working to our favour before zonal athletics competition of 2012, as our zone was divided into two (Musami A and Musami B). Pakati was placed in Musami A, where Chemhondoro High was also placed. This meant that one huge task (Musami High) had been removed.
Mr Magabaza, the then sports director at Pakati, went on leave during that term and I was asked to act on his behalf. I was voted to be the sports zonal representative. On the athletics zonal competitions days, we realised that the manner in which the zone had been divided was unfair. The two high schools were each put in a seperate zone, meaning each would still remain the power house in its zone.
Being the zonal sports rep gave me the capacity to push for reshuffling of the zone, which I managed to accomplish before the soccer competitions. My aim was creating a way for Pakati to reach district competitions. The 2012 senior team zonal competitions were held at Pakati, a positive thing for the team. Our local community had been witnessing how hard I was training the team, so they thronged the school grounds to support the team on the day of the competitions. The team won the zonal competitions, thank God. Morale became high within the team but the target of reaching finals at the district was still a hard one to achieve.
This lead to Pakati soccer team getting a new nickname – as we talked about the game someone said ‘we bulldozed them!’, hence we called ourselves the Bulldozers ever since.
Nyahuni high, which had gone to semi finals as second position team in our pool won the other semi finals so we had to meet them for the second time in the finals, after beating them in the pools stage. The match officials for the finals connived with Nyahuni to work against our team which saw our scores being denied leading to our students giving up and abandoning the match. However, we just encouraged them to finish the game, which due to obedience they did, but without any more heart hence we were beaten in penalty shoot outs of the district competitions.
I still maintain vivid memories of my 2012 Pakati soccer team which was captained by Gilbert Mhishi (now based in South Africa). It was a well behaved and committed team. This made the then new teacher (me – Mr Mutyavaviri) at Pakati Secondary well known in the local community. In 2013 I told the headmaster that I had accomplished my targets for the soccer team and was moving to the sport of my passion, thus I moved to volleyball.
Part 2 of my story (which will be with you soon) will focus on the academic circle and social interactions of my stay at Pakati as well as comments on development, achievements and general overview of the school during my time there.
Welcome to Oswell’s story! Here is a man brought up in the area, attended several schools in the ward including Pakati Primary, and has returned recently to showcase the area on film. Like so many, he has had struggles to overcome, and is proud of his roots. Read on please…..
“My name is Israel Oswell Nadzo, and I was born in Murewa Dustrict in 1981, at St Pauls Hospital in Musami. My mother passed away when I was 1 year old, so I grew up with my grandmother in Muchagonei village, 2 km from Pakati Primary school, just across the Shavanhowe river. I started my Primary education at Chanetsa in 1988, then Pakati in 1989. From end of 1989 up to 1994 I was at Mabika Primary school. I then continued my education at Mabika, at the Secondary school, up to form 4 (O levels).
My friends at Mabika were called Fostage Macheka, Michael Muchagonei and Owen Chitongo. Classmates at Pakati I still remember more than than 20 years ago ate Isaac Zambezi, Marvis Nguwo, Learnmore Makuvaza, Bothwell jani, Edwell Gatsi, Vena Mapiti and others. Bothwell Jani and Isaac Zambezi were my friends from Pakati Primary school.
I was a nomadic child, because my grandmother was too old, so some times I lived with my relatives in Makuvaza village near Pakati, or the others in Chanetsa village . My father only took care of me when I was 14 years old, until I finished my O level, but he passed away in 2017, so that kind of life I passed through was not easy at all. I didn’t get enough further education though, but I am now talented at writing Shona dramas, movies and novels.
I am trying to use my talent to educate people upon the experience of life that i have had. I had learned about importabt things – Love, Peace, Harmony, Justice, and Fairness in our community. We have orphans, elders and other poor people in the community who need help. Musami area is veey much behind in terms of development, though I don’t know why. Some are educated and some are ignorant, others are heartless, that’s why you see no even a celebrity or a public figure in our areas.
My massage to the people is let us unite and make something, lets make the road of the future generations, ARISE AND SHINE Murewa. Elders of the community, children educated and non-educated people must learn from what Mr Chris Walker is doing in our area.
MITAMBO YENHARIRE THEATRE group was formed by three groups which included Chingwe Drama Club and New Youth Generation. Chongwe drama leader was Farai Josiya, New Youth leader was Collen Nhinga, and both of them are former Pakati school students. Together we formed Mitambo Yenharire Theatre group, and I am the leader.
Currently I am living in Harare, and I am an Embroiderer and an actor. I am a father of 3 Emmaculate, Elshimah and Elmar, who is my only my son. Acting was and is my hobby since 1989 when I was in Grade 2. My wish is to bring our community together as one, and not to be a lost generation – United we stand divided we fall, Arise and Shine MUREWA.
My upcoming Movie is titled MUTUNHU UNEMAGO (A Human Being), and its about the villages without future, jealous villagers, poverty, hatred, gossip and Wicthcraft. The elders of that village were busy militarising children, preaching the message of hate, but at the end no development in the area came until they become united and gave support to each other.”
My thanks go to Oswell for allowing Friends of Pakati to tell his story…I hope you, the reader, enjoyed it all.
• A former teacher tells the story of how the Pakati Secondary boys football team got its nickname ‘The Bulldozers’, as well as reflecting on his time at the school
• Pauline Machengo continues her story ‘Outside Zim Borders’ with chapter 11 on its way soon
• Former student Portia Nemaruru brings us up to date with part 2 of her profile, describing her transition from Pakati to Rose of Sharon, including the inspirational leader there, Dr Fatima Maruta
• More of what people are saying about Friends of Pakati
I have been looking back recently on comments I have read about Friends of Pakati, the project itself, the blog, the fundraising activities, the stories, the people involved, achievememts so far and our priorities in the coming months/years.
Below are some of the messages I have had in the last few months about Friends of Pakati…it seems we are making a good impression!
Mrs Maenzanise had this to say recently: …”thanks so much l enjoyed every section of the blog. Quite interesting dear.👏🏻👏🏻” Also, regarding our recent joint venture with VaTonatsa Foundation (see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/07/11/joint-venture-back-story-and-responses/ ) she said: “Hello friend Chris. Thanks so much for bringing our area to greatest height. Our learners have been introduced to a new thing in their lives. Revising while at home with the help of relatives and friends during the covid period. We really appreciate your love and help for them to excel in their school work. The material will go a long way…… Thanks to all others behind the scenes. Be blessed.”
Mr Chifaka also told me this after the success of the joint venture: “…On behalf of Pakati Secondary school, l thank Friends of Pakati and Vatonatsa Foundation for their work in favour of ward 14 learners. The examinations books they prepared for us will be of great use to the learners and will prepare them for their final examinations….. May God bless Friends of Pakati and Vatonatsa Foundation by giving them more strength to continue their invaluable work.”
Vari Mayez commented on Friends of Pakati: “..All I can say is that my heart is overjoyed. It’s great to see a project that involves such huge numbers come alive. At VaTonatsa we have worked with children, but this time we made a huge impact thanks to the partnership and collaboration with Friends of Pakati.”
Roj Rahman of Mortz Property Services in Scunthorpe, a key donor to Friends of Pakati: “… Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved and make a contribution to a very worthy cause. Knowledge is power, and the best way to help the next generation move forward to achieve peace, prosperity and progress is through education. I wish you and Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation to continue the excellent work and wish you all the best of health and continued success.”
Pakati Primary school Head, Mr Mahachi told me this earlier: “..The blog is providing me with a good learning experience, its informative and inspiring. I’m learning a lot through stories being shared. I’m appreciating life through other people’s life testimonies.”
Maggie of Nakai, who is based in Canada and is one of our sponsors (see picture below), said to me earlier today: “It’s not very often that you see people continue to have the heart to a place that they left over 25yrs ago. The work that Chris and his team is doing is just heart warming.The students of Pakati are so hard working and with the little that they have, they seize every opportunity. The success stories are beautiful.
One thing I’ve learnt in life is that dreams have no measure. A child in Canada and a Child in Murehwa all share the same dreams in life. Circumstances and environment may differ but by helping out donating to the students of Pakati will make each child one step closer to making their dream a reality.”
Below are some of the comments I have seen from contacts on various social media platforms:
John Needham of Iron Trust, a Scunthorpe United supporters group, sent me this message recently: “I’ve really enjoyed reading about events past and present at the Pakati school from your work for VSO many years ago to the inspiring stories from the present. At this time where IT equipment is even more crucial for pupils to have access to learning I’d urge Iron fans to support this project if possible.”
Resident of Ward 14, Murewa, in the Chanetsa area, is Oswell Israel Nadzo: “I am enjoying the blog. Foward ever backward never Mr Walker! I do appreciate your work and your love of Murewa people.”
Journalist and Author, Max Bell: “…Your blog’s content is always very good!”
Recent former teacher at Pakati Secondary school, Mr Mutyavaviri, has been keeping up with the blog: “… I usually read the items when I have enough data, the link between Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa is commendable.”
Gary Lundie, fellow fan of The Iron (Scunthorpe Untied) said: “…Lots of great work going on here 👍”
A former Pakati student now living in South Africa, Tau Madziva, told me that “…Mr Walker the people of Pakati salute you”
And finally, from two key friends of Pakati and of the Author, the following joint message was sent this morning:
“Did you ever think that, just from your decision from a mere visit to the school in 2018 you would touch the lives if so many people? Keep it up Mr Walker!! Keep up the spirit too to our donors, some who are known (& mentioned above) and most of those behind the scene. More wisdom and more ideas..we will together reach our dreams. Great teamwork shown from supporters, story tellers , funders. Thank you so much for putting us together..One world means One people 👍🏻 Great stuff!
Saw this article and I felt justified in trying to help Pakati schools to get into the digital world. This will be linked to the Vision page (which I am still re-writing) soon.
COVID-19 a wake up call for the education sector
-August 21, 2020
guest column:Bothwell Riside
ZIMBABWE like any other nation globally has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily statistics are showing we have not reached the peak of the infections. Ignorance and arrogance will definitely impact negatively in the quest to fight the pandemic. Never have we seen in our lifetime a situation whereby the whole nation and world at large are brought to a standstill by a disease. We have had the deadly Ebola in West Africa, but it never threatened our nation a little. With the locally transmitted cases surging, one question in mind is what of our education sector. If education is affected, it means the impact of the pandemic will live with us for the next decades even if a permanent solution is going to be found. The postponement of the opening of the schools for the second term though necessary is not a good piece of news. Of course life is more important than education and at the same time we can’t ignore the short and long-term impact of tampering with our education. Thinking of schools that entirely depend on fees to pay for all their educational inputs shows we are in unprecedented times.
Never had Zimbabwe as a nation relied on distance electronic learning. While distance e-learning has never been part of the system, it is popular in most countries where one even goes to the extent of getting a PHD just after attending virtual classes. Many of Zimbabwean scholars have done their education online. A research on the implementation of the use of computers in the teaching and learning situation in Zimbabwe indicated that less than 10% of the schools are using ICT in the day-to-day learning activities. For those 10% , very few use ICT-based technologies for instructions. This is quite unfortunate for a country like Zimbabwe, 40 years after independence. We remember how the government in 1980 made the education sector its priority. It was one of the sectors that experienced phenomenal growth both in terms of educational inputs and outputs. Today in the COVID-19 wake, most schools are relying on inferior platforms that were not designed for teaching and learning but merely communication. Platforms like WhatsApp although offering fast and real time collaborations do not provide proper support for distance e-learning. But what can we do if this is the only available platform we have?
Where are we in terms of ICT?
The most undoing thing in Zimbabwe today is the unaffordability of the internet. I would want to say comparatively in US dollar terms it is cheap, but the level of poverty in the nation makes internet unaffordable. Taking into consideration that the teacher who must be imparting knowledge may not afford the costs of the internet, breaks the whole system of education. The same applies to the parents, they rarely afford the internet costs. To make matters worse, the only gadget affordable to some is a cellphone and online teaching and learning require a laptop because of its versatility. Just like the health sector, the education sector must plan for life during and after COVID-19. If we had excellent and affordable internet connectivity, it was going to be a plus for us. Internet must be the most affordable service in our country. There must be free hotspots doted everywhere. Rural areas just as in mobile phones connectivity, must all have affordable internet.
Teachers who are not computer literate
According to research, most teachers are not computer literate or have minimum skills that make them unable to conduct online lessons effectively and efficiently. Our education system must make our teachers to be more technically minded in order to lead in the e-revolution from the trenches. It’s imperative for a teacher who is leaving college or university to be able to make a beautiful slide presentation for use in schools. Even in rural areas, a teacher may hold his pre-charged laptop and show the students his or her presentation. Having solar systems installed may be an icing on the cake.
Change in curriculum
While teacher training colleges or institutions have been concentrating on the psychology, philosophy, sociology and methods and ways to impart knowledge in our students, none ever thought of distance e-learning. Knowledge of these areas is now imperative.
We cannot afford to have our children be at home without learning again. The teacher training institutions must have a course called e-learning that looks at pictures,videos, audio files generation, editing, storage and dissemination ways. A certified teacher must have knowledge of various softwares.
Google has dozens of applications that one may use in day-to-day teaching and learning. Fortunately, these may be used in the day-to-day e-distance learning too. Teachers must be able to use software like google classroom, Gsuites, jamboard, google slides, hangouts, forms, docs, drive and quiz and so on. Having a teacher who can type, prepare a powerpoint and a spreadsheet is not enough. We must be seen equipping our teachers with these skills such that our children grow up knowing them. A modern teacher must be able to share with his or her students information online without any problems. Cloud saving of documents is the way to go in this age.
Besides Google, Microsoft has a lot of software that class teachers may make use of. The teachers may use Microsoft teams, powerpoints, slides, paint and so on to impart knowledge in the students. In this age, distance must not be a barrier. Having a teacher who can edit his or her videos and put pictures in it would be a great asset for the education sector. All institutions must use ICT effectively and efficiently in learning and teaching. Teachers who are equipped with such are likely going to excel.
We cannot rule out the importance of WhatsApp as a way of communication. There also software like wechat, telegram, zoom, kahoot and many others that schools are making use of globally. A lot of educational websites are there and our own teachers may create their own sites where they post examinations and activities. We need to be very proactive in the teaching and learning of our future generations. With the right training and exposure our always hardworking teachers may find these quite interesting and useful.
ICT curriculum overview
Zimbabwean ministries responsible for both education and ICT must form a synergy and review the curriculum biennially. Primary and secondary students must be the ones doing programming and learn about software. ICT must be made a compulsory subject at school. Where we are going, handwritten documents are becoming less and less common. There is a digital revolution in the world. Everything is being done digitally and every ministry has an application downloadable from the internet. If students are introduced to basic programming languages like logo, scratch and Qbasic at an early stage, it means when they start learning some programming languages at a higher level, life would be very easy.
Education provides for the future generations and we must not tamper with it. Our country has a lot of potential to do well if we have the right mindset. Our political leaders must set the tone. We have a dream of a country we all have. Politics and education are inseparable and our political leaders must be proactive rather than reactive.
This is just a disease that has brought our system to a standstill. In future we can use google forms to take examinations online. What if we have a natural disaster too? Our children and their children’s future must be safeguarded today . We must live to leave a legacy.