BY STEVE EPHRAEM
EDUCATION is a respected and important aspect of life in Zimbabwe. This has seen the Government dedicate two full ministries towards education management. These are Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) and Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.
MoPSE is the one that caters for the early stages of learning, that is, from Early Childhood Development (ECD) to Advanced Level. A child is expected to spend nine years in primary school (ECD A & B then Grade 1-7). For secondary education, a student is expected to spend six years. This gives a total of fifteen years before one enrolls for higher and tertiary learning.
It is at this initial stage that due care must be exercised to the development of a pupil’s education. It is the time when the mind of a child is still tender and loves exploring new fields. It is the stage when the young mind is eager to learn without much reasoning or resistance.
When the Government of Zimbabwe allowed Early Childhood Development centres to be established by other players in addition to those already established by primary schools, it didn’t only lessened the burden of most primary schools to construct new ECD facilities, but also empowered new players in the education sector.
Most primary institutions are operating on hot sitting where two or more classes share a single classroom.
Can schools finance own construction projects without depending on grants or donations?
Zimbabwe is promoting Competent Based Curriculum where a pupil is given chance to explore in the field s/he is excellent in. There is no doubt that this curriculum demands more human and building resources for each school.
Some school administrators are tempted to either apply for special grants or approach the donour community to fund building of more classrooms.
Gaza Government Primary School in Chipinge has a different story. Regardless of the fact that it is a government owned learning institution and one of the oldest in Chipinge, the school has embarked on a development program without donour funding or applying for special grants.
The learning institution is located in the old and dusty Gaza Township. The school is less than 5km from the central business district of Chipinge. It’s located at the civic centre of the township where it rubs shoulders with Gaza Stadium, Gaza Clinic, Gaza Community Hall, the now defunct Gaza Swimming Pool and Chitima shops.
Gaza Government Primary School has an enrolment of 2,020 pupils from ECD to Grade 7 including a Resources Unit of 8 pupils who are physically challenged. It has a staff compliment of 48 teachers and 8 ancillary staff.
Last year, the school had a deficit of 14 classrooms. Beginning this year, the school entered into a construction drive to cover for the shortfall.
In the first term of this year, the school managed to build a two-classroom block using own resources generated from school fees, levies and income generation projects. This happened banking on the strong relationship between school administration and the parents and guardians of its pupils.
Gaza Government Primary School held a ground breaking ceremony of a three-classroom on 13 October 2023. According to the school head, Kurauone Trust Chipongo,they are aiming for a ground-plus-floors building to house the remaining classes.
“After this three-classroom block project, we are aiming at building a ground-plus-floors building. This will help us to utilise the little remaining space of ground available at the school. In that respect, I urge parents and guardians to take payment of fees and levies seriously so that we can be able to complete the construction projects,” said Mr Chipongo.
The chairperson of the School Development Committee, Tambudzai Jumburu, said that as parents, they have set a target of constructing classrooms each and every year in order to get rid of hot sitting currently experience at the school.
Chipinge East Education Inspector, Mbengo Mahwire,who was guest of honour at the ground breaking ceremony, admired the stance taken by Gaza Government Primary School.
“I am happy that as a government school, Gaza has set an example of how schools should use its own resources. The school could have waited for a grant or a donour to embark on building classrooms. We have seen how the institution has preferred to use own resource to construct classrooms and even planning for a ground-plus-floors structure beginning next year,” he said.
How learning institutions acquire resources differs from school to school. But the example made by Gaza Government Primary in self-financing building of classrooms is a clear testimony that schools can finance own construction projects.
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