United Methodists establish urban schools

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Key Points:

  • Reaching beyond traditional rural settings, two new private schools enhance education in Harare and Mutare.
  • The women’s organization Rukwadzano Rwe Wadzimai runs Barrington Christian School in Harare and will launch Mutare International Girls High School.
  • Revelation College, located at Revelation United Methodist Church, started with two students in 2019 and now enrolls over 60.
  • “The ministry,” said the Rev. Clifford Mushishi, “is interpreted as providing knowledge, education and evangelism through our students.”

Over the past three years, the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area witnessed the dawn of a new era as The United Methodist Church founded two state-of-the-art private schools in Harare. An international high school for girls is set to open its doors in Mutare early in 2023.

“Our church has a very strong rural and peri-urban education system,” said Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, “but we didn’t have any schools in the urban areas.

“I think it’s a very good phenomenon that we now have city schools, which provide top-notch education. Barrington School and Revelation College are starting to do that.”

The church’s women’s organization, Rukwadzano Rwe Wadzimai, runs Barrington Christian School in Harare and has set up Mutare International Girls High School.

“Barrington Christian School is a women’s organization project designed to generate funds for mission work, while providing holistic education and enhancing Christian, moral and social values to the surrounding communities,” said Michael Nhamburo, school manager.

“Many women in the church bemoan the loss of their children to other faiths when they attend schools of other churches,” explained Joyce Chikuni, Barrington board chair.

Greater Taremeredzwa Nhiwatiwa, RRW area president and wife of Bishop Nhiwatiwa, said, “Our God is good. In 1989, this place was a chicken farm. Today it has a state-of-the-art school because of our efforts.

“The dream to establish a school came into being in 2018,” she continued. “In 2020, we started to renovate the buildings and named it Barrington Christian School. As women, we are aiming to establish a university of our own because we believe that nothing is impossible through prayer. We prayed for the establishment of Africa University. With that experience, what can prevent us from having a UMC women’s university?”

Located in a new residential area, Barrington offers early childhood development (kindergarten) and primary education up to fourth grade with an enrollment of 35 pupils. It is supported by RRW members in Zimbabwe and beyond. 

In April, women in the United Kingdom Mission Area donated a solar-powered system worth over $4,500 as the school was affected by perennial outages.

“I feel humbled to be part of RRW U.K. Mission Area,” said Patience Zvikomborero Mudambanuki, “and to witness such amazing work from people, despite the hardships faced here in the diaspora. The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak did not deter RRW from continuing to raise the banner, upholding our theme ‘Kushandira Kristu nevamwe,’ which means ‘working for Christ and others.’

“We pray that the learners, especially the girls who will be educated at this school, will add to the number of God-fearing, confident, empowered and learned fine young adults ready to positively influence the church, community, country and world. The saying goes, ‘If you educate a woman, you have the whole village educated,” she added.

Joyce Chikuni, board chair, reiterated the commitment to achieving academic excellence. Several programs will be introduced in phases.

“As a church” she said, “we are committed to giving the best to each student. For what we have achieved and those (achievements) to come, we thank God.” 

The Rev. Oswell Kaseke, Harare Central District superintendent, said, “We have brought our church to the people. It is our vision through connectional ministries that we should take the church to people, given that we are having new locations where people are coming and settling. As a church, we need to establish our institutions within these new areas.”

Revelation College is located at Revelation United Methodist Church, the biggest church in the Harare West District. The college started with two students in 2019 and now enrolls over 60.

Headmaster and math teacher Matthew Maingehana expressed happiness with developments at the school and gratitude for the church’s support.

The Rev. Clifford Mushishi, Revelation UMC pastor-in-charge, said the church is ministering to the community through education. 

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“The ministry in our view,” he said, “is interpreted as providing knowledge, education and evangelism through our students.”

Mushishi is pleased that the school enhances the community by creating employment opportunities for teachers and support staff.

The school embraces students from all denominations. Top student Nicole Mukwembi, 18, is a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission Church. She aspires to study hotel and catering management and strives to model positive moral values.

“I chose the school,” Mukwembi said, “because it has a Christian background. My parents favored it, unlike my previous school where students abused drugs and other dangerous substances.”

The Mutare school premise was established in 1930 as Mutare Girls Hostel. It accommodated unmarried women who came to the city to study or work. The hostel evolved over the years and recently offered accommodation to Africa University students who could not secure housing on campus.

Mercy Tsitsi Chirere, the manager, said the Mutare International Girls High School will open in January 2023 with a targeted enrolment of 240 students when it becomes fully operational.

“It will be an independent international high school,” Chirere said. “It will draw learners from the global village and become a center of excellence in developing academically and socially equipped female innovators, entrepreneurs and influential global leaders nurtured within a Christian environment.”

Chingwe and Chikwanah are United Methodist communicators in Zimbabwe. Training participants from the Zimbabwe West Conference also contributed to this report.

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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