HARARE – Former students of the Presbyterian Secondary School in Mashonaland West, Mhondoro have formed an Old Students Association body; The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.
According to an insider, an interim executive will meet this Saturday 13 February 2016 for the first convening time at the Presbyterian Mbare Church in Harare at 11 am. The meeting will set the association’s mission and objectives and together with plans for an elective assembly provided for in the draft a constitution that will tabled for ratification by members at an elective congress.
A source privy to the details said; through Social media interactions involving extremely engaging former students in Zimbabwe and those based in the diaspora, have put in place an interim executive committee which is chaired by Mr Collin Kalira as Chairman, and deputised by Ms Stella Chapwanya. Mr Pearson Madzongwe is the Secretary-General and Mr Fabian Mahembe is the deputy.
The treasury team is headed by Taurai Mushure and his deputy is Victor Mupangami. Edgar Madzongwe is the Information and Publicity secretary and his deputy is Mercy Chawanda. Committee members include Mark Garikai Kamba and Irene Ndlovu.
Presbyterian boarding High school, is located in the Mashonaland Central Province’s Mhondoro district, about 60km southwest of the capital, Harare and it is one of the country’s top set A Level schools in the country with an average 65 percent pass rate.
The school is located within the community of Madzongwe and Mupondi villages near Matambo shopping centre.
In recent years the school has had its fair share of problems due to the economic problems in the country but however, the school’s board and teaching staff have worked tremendously hard to keep the standards at the top level in spite of many of the challenges.
In 2007, food shortages forced the church-run school to set up a makeshift feeding programme.
“The pupils are now having potatoes and tea in the morning because there is no bread to give them. During lunch and supper, unlike in the past, when we alternated between rice and sadza [thick mealie meal porridge, a staple food], and beef or chicken, we have had to resort invariably to the potatoes and beans,” a senior school teacher, who declined to be identified, told IRIN at the time.
In liaison with the school authorities; the proposed former Student Association is said to be working towards setting up objectives of material, financial, technological and enviromental support programs for the school and the communities in the neighbourhood.
Our source said plans are already afoot to set up a first of its kind in Zimbabwe, a dynamic state of the art School website which will interfaced with the Students Association platform and alongside other Presbyterian Church schools around the world. The websites will also provide vital organisational and communications infrastructure between teaching staff, students and parents.
“We will be meeting at the Presbyterian Church in Mbare on Saturday at 11 am to map the way forward and the meeting will deliberate on a structured agenda that will see the birth of the founding constitution,” said the interim ex-officio Secretary-General Pearson Madzongwe.
Mr Madzongwe did not reveal much to our reporter on whether their plans have already been embraced by the church board and the teaching staff; but sources said a committee will be set up to thresh out details to be presented to all stakeholders.
Old students associations are now playing a very crucial role in delivering education in the country. They are filling a gap that has been created by inadequate funding from the central government particularly in the last decade.
Most mission schools and former group A schools infrastructure and academic standards have slowly been going down over the years. Desks and chairs are in short supply, libraries are antiquated, dormitories are in a shambles.
The sad conditions have given rise to the proliferation of private schools and private lessons conducted in backyards in the high density suburbs and rural in communities. Most parents now shun sending their children to former iconic mission schools.
Former students at Kutama College, Gokomere High and St Ignatius have in the past led the way in restoring their schools’ battered image and status back to the pedestal through funding.
These mission schools have produced a fair share of academics, commerce and industry leaders and renowned sportspersons over the last century.
The old students associations are playing a significant role to complement efforts by school development associations made up of parents in bringing back quality education.
The former students are donating library books, repairing broken down buildings, maintaining sporting facilities and purchasing school buses.
Funding education has become a community issue in the face of dwindling government funding over the years as the economy deteriorated. Parents were not spared from the ravages of the economic malaise and could not pay more to schools, thus further crippling service delivery.
The situation is different at private schools which continue to maintain their standards over the years. The schools have influential benefactors in industry and commerce and the parents contribute significant funds to the schools as levies.
Former students from mission schools and other schools attended by middle class and lower class families have since realised that they should play a part in the revival of these schools’ fortunes.
These schools played an indispensable role in their development and they are simply paying back.
Meanwhile, a new kid on the block has emerged.
Former Mount Selinda and Chikore Missions students have awakened from the slumber to revive the century old institutions that churned them.
The institutions were established by American Board of Mission (ABM) now United Church of Christ Zimbabwe (UCCZ) in 1893 and 1895.
Within the last century of their existence the institutions have produced world renowned academics among them Masipula Sithole, Ndabaningi Sithole and Oxford University lecturer Blessing Miles Tendi.
Mount Selinda Mission now stands forlornly on the edges of the great equatorial Chirinda forest stubbornly showing its 118 years of existence. The worn out and collapsing buildings stoically calling for attention from thousands of its alumni who passed through its doors over the last century.
Mbada Holdings head of audit Bonnie Dhliwayo who heads the communications for the old students under the banner “Friends of Chikore and Mount Selinda Missions” (FOMA) said the initiative was the first in a series of trying to revive the century old institutions.
“We would like to help facilitate the UCCZ mission to maintain high standards of infrastructure and excellence in service provision to the community,” Dhliwayo said.
Dhliwayo added that FOMA was interested in paying back to the institutions that have given much to Zimbabwe in terms of leadership yet they are on the brink of extinction.
“The formation of FOMA is an endeavour to pay back to the schools that have helped mould many students to the lofty positions they now hold in the community. It is imperative upon this generation to plough back and revive these institutions to their former iconic pedestals,” Dhliwayo added.
FOMA interim executive is headed by University of Zimbabwe academic Allan Tsapayi, Dhliwayo, renowned academic Pindai Sithole, Zimsec human resources director Joyman Thabete, Selby Nera and Reverend Decent Mugari.
Old students associations now seem to be the way to revive education in the country for the poor communities. For more information please contact Pearson Madzongwe on 0773446888.