Norwegian partnership benefits rural Zimbabwe education

Students work in the new computer lab at Nyamidzi Secondary School in rural Zimbabwe. The lab was created through collaboration between The United Methodist Church and the Zimbabwean government. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UMNS.
Students work in the new computer lab at Nyamidzi Secondary School in rural Zimbabwe. The lab was created through collaboration between The United Methodist Church and the Zimbabwean government. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UMNS.

Chabadza, a partnership between Norwegian and Zimbabwean United Methodists, is branching out to non-United Methodist entities.

The latest Chabadza endeavor is construction of a state-of-the-art library and computer laboratory at Nyamidzi Secondary School, a community institution, near Rusape. The goal is to improve the quality of education in the rural Nyazura area of northern Zimbabwe.

Chabadza began in 2005, when Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area met with colleagues from The United Methodist Church in Norway about assisting the denomination’s work in Zimbabwe. That marked the beginning of the Chabadza Norway Community Development Program. “Chabadza,” a Shona word that roughly means “people in relationship working together for mutual benefit,” turned out to be a perfect name for the project.

The $55,000 project at Nyamidzi  designed to transform education in disadvantaged, remote areas of the country  resulted in the school receiving 22 laptops, textbooks and other donations.

The school, located 15 miles from the Manicaland provincial capital of Rusape, also became the pioneer beneficiary of the government’s Information and Communications Technology program in rural areas.

Headmaster Stanley Makota expressed thanks for the effort to improve the learning environment in rural schools.

“We … appreciate the gesture by government and other partners who came up with the initiative to have this infrastructure put in place for the benefit of our children,” he said. Already, he continued, enrollment totals and the number of students passing to the next academic level have improved.

“Our enrollment shot from 500 to 565, and our pass rate was up from 15.5 percent to 23.45 percent due to improved access to research facilities,” Makota said. “The new facilities have not only benefited the formal (day) students, but also those who did not do well in past examinations and are making a return as external (corresponding or commuting) students.”

  Takudzwa Musakwa (standing) studies a book in the new library at Nyanidzi Secondary School.  Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UMNS. 

Takudzwa Musakwa studies a book in the new library at Nyamidzi Secondary School. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UMNS.

Takudzwa Musakwa, a class president and an O-level (ages 17-18) student, was happy with the new facility. “This also means better results for us as students.”

The project includes a new curriculum that demands extensive research, but he said the new study options provide the opportunity to do such research.

“The new curriculum is challenging,” Musakwa said, “but with the facilities now at our disposal, we are guaranteed of better pass rates.”

Edward Mukoyi, an outgoing member of the council that owns and operates the school, applauded the community for working with Norwegian partners to renovate the facilities and drill a borehole to ease water challenges at the institution.

“We … thank Chabadza for motivating us,” he said. “I am pleased that we have joined hands in improving the standards of our community school as the council did not have the capacity to refurbish the school due to financial constraints.”

Today, Chabadza directs 80 percent of its proceeds to non-United Methodist institutions, while the remaining 20 percent goes to needy areas of The United Methodist Church.

Chingwe is communications coordinator for the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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