Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
TEACHERS and schools countrywide have been challenged to invest in income generating projects leveraging on natural resources around them and programmes being spearheaded by the Second Republic.
The call was made by Zanu-PF Politburo member and Chitepo School of Ideology Principal Cde Munyaradzi Machacha while addressing close to 1 000 heads of secondary schools that attended the recent National Association of Secondary School heads (Nash) conference in Victoria Falls.
He said the revolutionary party was renewing its relationship with teachers which was cordial during the struggle for independence and soon thereafter.
Cde Machacha said teachers used to be role models in their communities as they were at the forefront in implementing Government and party programmes, and as such many became some of the first businesspersons in independent Zimbabwe.
Most civil servants struggle with life after retirement as they would not have invested while some schools also struggle to stay afloat because they rely on fees from parents.
The Chitepo School of Ideology is working together with the Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production (ZIMFEP), a department charged with education in Zanu-PF, and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on programmes seeking to capacitate teachers in line with competence-based curriculum and education 5.0.
“We see a lot of opportunities due to the devolution thrust and we think that schools and teachers can benefit from Intwasa, Presidential Input Scheme and Livestock schemes. Schools can produce food and become self-sufficient and reduce costs,” said Cde Machacha.
He said more than 1 000 teachers were trained at the Chitepo School in 2021 and 15 000 have expressed interest.
The training programme is voluntary for those who want to learn the country and party’s ideology and other courses such as history and economy.
“We want to give teachers and pupils ideological skills so they can make money for their school and for themselves. Through the voluntary teacher capacitation programmes, we can boost the morale of teachers, improve pass rate and change their attitude towards their work.
“After training, teachers are free to choose to join the Teacher for Economic Development Association (Teachers for ED,” he said.
Schools administered by ZIMFEP have started benefitting, according to ZIMFEP director Cde Gideon Chiukira.
ZIMFEP was established before independence at refugee camps in Zambia and Mozambique to help youths that dropped out of school to join the liberation struggle and a decision has been made to revive it.
It is under the Zanu-PF Department of Education headed by Dr Joram Gumbo.
Cde Chiukira urged schools to take advantage of natural resources in their locality to generate revenue through income generating projects.
He said Rusunguko High School in Mashonaland East had started making bricks for sale taking advantage of rich soils and had signed a US$10 million contract with Better Bricks and another one with a Chinese investor.
JZ Moyo High School in Matabeleland South will also soon start mining activities after discovery of gold deposits inside the school’s Majoda Farm.
Nkululeko High School outside Gweru is also doing maize farming and had a bumper harvest this year.
Some of the schools have been given seed capital to start projects.
“We allow teachers at our ZIMFEP schools to be involved in these economic ventures and we look for partners for them. We are encouraging teachers to form and register companies so they benefit from tenders. So we are saying those with resources in the areas, let’s exploit these so that we generate revenue and improve school infrastructure and welfare of teachers and learners,” said Cde Chiukira.
He said communities near ZIMFEP schools were also benefiting from spill-over projects.
In Matabeleland North ZIMFEP Schools include Fatima High and Fatima Primary and George Silundika while in Matabeleland South there is JZ High School
“Our aim is that when teachers retire they will be having businesses and continue to get tenders. Schools should be self-sustaining.
“The starting point is for them to inform us of the intention and we seek approval from principals then we look for partners,” said Cde Chiukira.
He said there was overwhelming response from heads at the recent Nash who want to be capacitated to tap into mining, farming and other resources in their areas.
There is also a Presidential scholarship programme where vulnerable learners from disadvantaged communities are given scholarships.