Career expo helps dreams take flight at rural schools

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Key points:

  • United Methodist men’s group brings professionals to rural school in Zimbabwe, giving students the opportunity to learn more about careers in aviation, law and banking.
  • The career guidance was designed to give rural students essential career information and boost their self-confidence, said Tapiwa Mupari, chairperson of the men’s organization in the Chitungwiza-Marondera District.
  • The event exposed students to professions beyond those found in their communities and helped them plan for the future.

Over 200 rural students had the opportunity to rub shoulders with professionals in the aviation, legal and banking sectors under a career-guidance program held by the Chitungwiza-Marondera District men’s organization.

Staff from Air Zimbabwe, the national airline, demystified the aviation industry to fourth-year high school students from Murape and Seke Materera schools, enabling them to learn more about a profession that they were not familiar with. The students are preparing to sit for final examinations in October and November.

Ishmael Nyoni, 21, a senior prefect at Murape School (about 50 kilometers from Harare), appreciated the opportunity to interact with the various professionals.  

Matilda Simboti of Air Zimbabwe gives students a brief overview of the operations of the national airline during a church-sponsored career expo at Murape and Seke Materera secondary schools in Seke, Zimbabwe. The rare sight of the Air Zimbabwe bus at the school attracted students and members of the neighboring community. Photo by Eveline Chikwanah, UM News.  
Matilda Simboti of Air Zimbabwe gives students a brief overview of the operations of the national airline during a church-sponsored career expo at Murape and Seke Materera secondary schools in Seke, Zimbabwe. The rare sight of the Air Zimbabwe bus at the school attracted students and members of the neighboring community. Photo by Eveline Chikwanah, UM News.

“The career guidance opened our eyes. We were just coming to school to learn without any focus on our future prospects,” he said.

“Now, we know which subjects to study for careers in different professions. I was fascinated by the bankers and have shifted my desire from my initial choice of engineering.”

Valeyn Andirigu, 17, was impressed by the chance to interact with airline staffers. “I learned about aviation engineering and was amazed by the presentations and interaction afterwards. I love sciences, but unfortunately, they are not offered at my school.”

Murape School Headmaster Lameck Chahwanda said he values the relationship the school has established with The United Methodist Church since 2017.

He said the church activities at the school have evolved and matured over time from the initial requests for a venue to hold medical outreach and spiritual revival programs.

“Career guidance targeted at our learners is a new dimension introduced by the church. The airline staff were a major attraction for our students and parents from the neighboring community,” said Chahwanda.

“Having such senior personnel at our school is a huge achievement and a rare opportunity accorded to a rural school. In the past, we have been invited to career-guidance events where we only managed to send a few students due to prohibitive transport costs. The church enabled all our public exam classes to meet and mingle with professionals,” he said. 

Chahwanda also extended an invitation to neighboring schools so they could benefit from the church initiative.

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“Our wish is to have the career guidance as an annual event to help shape our students’ future,” he said.

Matilda Simboti from Air Zimbabwe’s marketing department said it is the first time the company has held such an event with The United Methodist Church.

“The students had a lot of questions, especially about which subjects to pursue. We opened up the aviation world to them and we need to take our relationship to the next level by inviting them to the airport in Harare to see what happens there,” Simboti said.

“We were very impressed by the standards at this school; it is different from our perception of a rural school,” she said.

Tapiwa Mupari, chairperson of the Chitungwiza-Marondera District men’s organization, said the career event was designed to give learners exposure to different professions and also boost their self-confidence.

“We organized the program after noticing that most students in rural schools were lacking essential educational information and guidance. The aim is to bridge the gap that we have as rural and peri-urban students face challenges acquiring information that can help them choose careers,” Mupari said.

“The students also seem to lack career development qualities and skills. We afforded them the opportunity to interact with pilots, lawyers, engineers and bankers in order to empower them and encourage them to work hard in their studies,” he said.

The Rev. Godknows Risinamhodzi, Chitungwiza-Marondera District superintendent, said the church got involved to help young people live up to their potential.

“We have great talent in our schools and the nation has a bright future if proper guidance is accorded to our youths. Education sectors are seedbeds for the country’s personnel,” he said.

Risinamhodzi said students often had questions that teachers were unable to answer, so having the professionals on hand was beneficial and also left students hopeful about the future.

“We discovered most schools were not able to invite professionals to such essential events and felt we should augment what the schools are doing by supporting career guidance. We felt that physically brushing shoulders with pilots was also an inspiration for the students.”

Chikwanah is a correspondent for UM News based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

News media contact: Julie Dwyer at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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