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.