Church partners with Zimbabwean army on educational facility

In its quest for providing quality education, The United Methodist Church has partnered with the Zimbabwe National Army to build a state-of-the-art facility for training early childhood development (ECD) teachers at Nyadire Teachers’ College in the Mutoko-Mudzi District.

Nyadire Teachers’ College has been training teachers for the country since 1947.

The ECD Complex idea emanated from government policy demanding the recruiting of more trainee teachers in the specialized field of child education at Nyadire Teachers’ College. In order to implement the policy, Rosemary Nyarugwe, the college’s principal, stressed the need to design and construct the new infrastructure.

The complex houses 10 staff offices, a boardroom, two lecture rooms, a 330-capacity lecture theater, observation room, display room, workshop and computer lab. The project commenced in February 2013 and was completed in June of this year.

The infrastructure was jointly commissioned Aug. 2 by Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa and Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Nyarugwe said The ECD Complex project, the first of its kind in the region, was built at a cost of $656,861 for materials and labor. The Zimbabwe National Army provided specialist services — work by bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and technical and consulting groups — at no cost.

Though the Nyadire Teachers’ College partner project is a first of its kind, Chiwenga said the army shares a long history of working together with the church.

“We were together with the church in the trenches during the liberation struggle, and we continue to fight side by side — not against the oppressor, but illiteracy,” he said.

Chiwenga expressed appreciation of the church’s efforts in providing quality education in both pre- and post-independent Zimbabwe. He described education as a critical component of equipping the nation’s young minds.

“Educated communities are empowered communities,” he said, adding that the army is prepared to work with The United Methodist Church in future development of educational institutions and community-related projects. “This (project) can aptly be described as a public-private partnership, and the completion of this block is our contribution in a small way as a national defense force.”

“This historical partnership is in the spirit of Chabadza,” said Nhiwatiwa. “Chabadza is an African way of helping each other. The uniqueness of Chabadza is that one is assisted while they are already in the fields doing something, hence the renowned success of this philosophy in our church.”

Through Chabadza, the Zimbabwe church has created several partnerships in the wider United Methodist connection. One such partnership is The Nyadire Connection, which continues to work together with one of the church’s oldest mission centers in Nyadire.

In order for such initiatives to continue, Chiwenga implored the communities to rally in the spirit of unity and Chabadza. He also called on the corporate world to come forward and support such initiatives.

The construction of the project has ushered in benefits to the college and surrounding communities.

“The construction of this center will consequently increase enrollment of early childhood development teachers, hence contributing to the building blocks of the country’s literacy, which currently stands us out as the highest in Africa,” said Serina Daphne Zivanayi, acting director of tertiary education programs in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.

“Lectures for ECD courses will be conducted with ease due to the available space. Through the use of the observation room and computer laboratory, our lecturers and students will be able to do child study and come up with Zimbabwean theories of child development,” Nyarugwe said.

Neighboring schools also will benefit as they will use the facilities and receive teachers trained under such specialized conditions.

As a community initiative, the army also trained 10 bricklayers, who were awarded certificates and Class 3 Journeyman cards. The bricklayers were part of the general laborers that were drawn from the community and participated in the construction.

Nyarugwe said she appreciated the army’s leadership for its positive response.

“The response of the army exceeded our expectations,” she added. “The team of artisans who worked with us during the construction stages displayed high degrees of commitment, hard work, accuracy, discipline, friendliness, and they fitted very well in our Christian environment.”

Maforo is a pastor and communicator in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Theology and Education
Students and staff practice social distancing in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus as they wait to enter the dining hall at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The cafeteria has changed serving and seating arrangements, and meal times have been extended to three hours so those on campus do not all have to be served at the same time. Photo by the Africa University office of Advancement and Public Affairs.

AU shifts to online classes, some students stay on campus

The United Methodist university is practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Evangelism
The Rev. Josephat Banda congratulates his new district superintendent of diaspora, The Rev. Stephen Mukata (center), as Mukata’s wife, Perpetua Mukata, looks on at Old Mutare Mission in Mutare, Zimbabwe, during his appointment in 2018. Mukata oversees diaspora in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Zimbabwe church keeps diaspora connected

The Zimbabwe Episcopal Area has planted churches in Australia, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.
Mission and Ministry
A visitor to United Methodist Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone, washes his hands at a wash station before entering the hospital on March 16. Amid coronavirus concerns, the use of handwashing stations, previously used during the country’s fight against Ebola, has been stepped up in public places, including hospitals, banks and schools. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

Ebola offers lessons in fighting coronavirus in Sierra Leone

United Methodist hospitals among those gearing up as coronavirus concerns grow in the West African country.