BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – A quote in the concept document for a proposed girls’ high school at Sacred Heart Primary School, near the small farming town of Esigodini, adequately sums up the motivation and objectives for establishing the intended institution.
“The intention is to redress traditional gender imbalances, by primarily equipping disadvantaged young girls and women with academic or vocational education. This will assist in developing survival skills in these people that will make them self-sufficient and competent enough to take their places in a growing society.” The paragraph ends thus; “By participating in educational programmes on the dangers of HIV/ AIDS, the girl students should be able to safeguard themselves and thence effectively combat its spread among families and the local communities as a whole.”
Other key objectives, according to the document, are:
• To provide a holistic education that will empower the girl child in self development as a means for her to participate fully in nation building.
• To cultivate Christian and cultural values among students.
• To enlighten, guide and educate school-leavers who drop out at a tender age.
Another important point mentioned is the factor in which the girl child, in traditional society, is viewed as secondary to the boy child, where education is concerned and therefore seldom gets a chance to reach or complete high school.
Sacred Heart Primary School farm, site of the intended girls’ high school, is located 57 kilometres south of Bulawayo in Esigodini. The area has two secondary boys’ schools in the form of Falcon College a short distance drive and Mzingwane Secondary School a little further away. There are no such facilities for girls anywhere in the vicinity.
Building operations at the construction site of the proposed girls’ high school have come to a stand still due to lack of adequate funding. The resulting inactivity has forced hopeful local residents from surrounding neighbourhoods, through conducting frequent clean-up perations at the site, to constantly attempt stemming nature’s quest to reclaim the land taken from her.
Classroom blocks built so far, have been roofed but need floor finishing and plastering of walls for their completion. There is also need for construction of additional blocks, while teachers’ accommodation is stalled at roof level. As in the case of the afore-mentioned classroom blocks, their completion depends upon assistance in cash or kind from well-wishers.
The project has been at a stand-still for a prolonged period, raising fears among its initiators and potential beneficiaries that the longer its completion is delayed, the greater a disadvantage this will pose for local communities.
Those to benefit from service offered at the future high school, will essentially be girls from surrounding mines, villages, the district and nation wide. Enrollment at the proposed boarding establishment will consider students from Forms One to Six.
One third of all places in classes have been reserved for boys, who will attend strictly as day scholars.
The school is intended to include young women, unable to have access to secondary education because of poverty or teenage pregnancy, in night classes. Alternatively, as a means to empower or make them self-sufficient, such persons would be taught agricultural and home economic skills.
Local communities are willing to provide manpower to clean the sites and avail river and pit sand needed in the construction process. They could further help the project by engaging in brick moulding and provision of other locally available inputs.
The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, who run Sacred Heart Primary School, besides being initiators of the proposed secondary school, have not remained idle while awaiting assistance. Indeed, a comprehensive fundraising campaign was embarked upon, with the inclusion of a UD$10.00 building fund sought from the parents or guardians of each child presently attending the school.
The Ministry of Education Arts, Sports and Culture, is playing its part by providing small grants towards construction costs and will avail assistance for learning aids, besides paying teachers salaries.
Yet in spite of all the valiant efforts being made, by all parties concerned, to keep alive the dream of a quality rural based girl’s high school, there remains a mighty mountain to climb before this dream attains fruition.
Making an impassioned plea to well-wishers willing to chip in towards completion of this most worthwhile cause, Sister M. Dominic, Principal at Sacred Heart Primary School and the chief spokesperson for the proposed secondary institution, said; “If we are to see realization of this vision, there is need for us to reach into the hearts of willing well-wishers in order to stimulate release of the
generosity that resides there. To these people we say; please come forward and help us.”