The Sunday News
IN the winter of 2019, about 20 pupils from Sagonda Primary School in Nkayi District, Matabeleland North set out on a 53-kilometre walk aimed at raising funds to purchase building and educational materials for the school.
The target was Z$150 000. Of the amount, Information Communication Technology (ICT) gadgets, sports equipment, textbooks and furniture, among other requirements were to be procured.
Two years later, the school still suffers infrastructural challenges, a common feature in rural Matabeleland North where a number of schools have been recording poor pass rates compared to other provinces. Former students of Sagonda Primary in Lukampa village under Chief Sikhobokhobo have teamed up to bring to life the 2019 ambitious drive by pupils at the school to raise resources for the development of the institution.
“As former students of Sagonda Primary school, we got together in February this year and formed Sagonda Old Students Association (SOSA) with the sole aim of initially implementing short term projects at the school,” says Nhlalo Ncube, a member of SOSA initiative.
“We saw it fit to first embark on raising funds through contributions to buy stationery for all learners at the school including laptops. Each member is contributing R50 every month and already we have assisted 110 learners out of 600.”
Going forward, Ncube says their aim is to construct new classroom blocks having realised that the classroom blocks are in a deplorable state with most pupils attending lessons in the open.
“The Anglican Church run school has 14 classrooms but only four remain with proper learning structures. The initiative has attracted a positive buy-in from parents who held a meeting with school officials in March and saw it fit to select a committee to partner us. Those in Bulawayo have done the same. Anglican church officials are also supportive.”
According to the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec), the 2020 grade seven pass rate was 37.11 percent, down from 46.9 registered in 2019. However, lack of enabling infrastructure is denying learners the opportunity to undertake some of the subjects, Nobuhle Gumede, a villager said.
“As a parent I am pleased and support the initiative by former students. My wish is that they raise more funds and speedily assist our children and for other wards to implement the same model. It’s disheartening to see children losing interest in education because of poor infrastructure and lack of educational material,” she said.
The 2020 academic year was highly affected by the Covid-19 induced lockdown after it was prematurely brought to a halt in March in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Schools resorted to conducting lessons online, a development which left out other learners, especially those in rural areas who have no access to the internet or electronic gadgets.
A 2019 Primary and Secondary Education statistics report by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education on Information Communication Technology (ICT), computer access, use and connectivity acknowledges that “ICT has become indispensable in all facets of life worldwide hence its inclusion in the school curriculum.”
All schools are expected to use ICT in teaching and learning in order to advance technology in achieving quality education, however, at national level the report says just above a quarter (26.25 percent) of primary schools have internet.
“Primary schools without internet are 4 920 and 1 691 secondary schools. For the predominantly rural provinces, the percentage of primary schools with internet ranges from 16.24 percent in Matabeleland North province to 26.27 percent in Mashonaland West province.”
In 2005, the government embarked on donations of hundreds of computers to schools, but the initiative is yet to cover all schools.–The Citizen Bulletin