WATCH: US$1,6 million schools haul for Bulawayo
Nqobile Tshili, [email protected]
GOVERNMENT yesterday commissioned new classroom blocks at seven schools in Bulawayo constructed through partnership with a local church, which poured in US$1,6 million towards the project aimed at improving the quality of education while addressing overcrowding in schools.
The close collaboration between the Government and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a typical example of the positive spin-offs of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), which have been embraced by the Second Republic and are critical in bridging the country’s infrastructure gap.
In Bulawayo, the partnership has resulted in the construction and equipping of new classroom blocks at different schools around the city. Last year the church supported the construction of classroom blocks at six other schools in the city.
This year the project saw the construction of specialised Early Childhood Development (ECD) classroom blocks and laboratories at different schools which have all been fully equipped.
At Gampu Primary School, the church constructed an ECD block with four classes and also provided the furniture. The church also drilled and equipped a borehole to guarantee clean water for pupils and staff.
A block with four classrooms was constructed at Lobengula Primary School while a fully furnished block with five classrooms was constructed at Cowdray Park Primary School.
The church also constructed an ECD block with four classrooms at Mkhithika Thebe Primary School in Cowdray Park suburb while another ECD block is 90 percent complete at Luveve Primary School.
Luveve High School received lathe machines, drill presses, cutting torches and hand tools for its Metal Technology and Design Department.
At Cowdray Park High School, the church constructed a block with two fully-equipped science laboratories for Advanced Level pupils and provided sewing machines and laundry facilities to the Textile Technology and Design Department.
The church also provided equipment which included gas and electrical stoves to the school’s Food Technology Department.
The church has since last year spent US$1,6 million on revamping the city’s primary and secondary schools as well as providing the necessary equipment and furniture.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Cde Torerai Moyo commissioned the project at a function held at Cowdray Park High School yesterday.
He said standard schools’ infrastructure is key to producing quality human capital necessary for the development of the country.
Minister Moyo said Government was targeting to improve service delivery through the construction, rehabilitation and upgrading of existing facilities.
“Our pupils from ECD A to Advanced level will now have access to modern amenities that will improve their overall educational experience,” he said.
“Foundational learning, which is key to the provision of education in my ministry will be fully strengthened. The provision of early childhood education is one of the best investments that Zimbabwe has made as it promotes holistic development, gender equality and social cohesion among children.”
The provision of specialist classrooms and equipment in secondary schools provides a conducive environment for practical experiments, hands-on projects and technical skills development, Minister Moyo added.
He said there is a need to continue investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) driven solutions through equipping schools to enable them to offer technical vocational training.
The construction of additional classroom blocks is expected to decongest mega schools such as Cowdray Park High, Cowdray Park Primary and Mkhithika Thebe Primary School which have more than 2 000 pupils each.
“The Second Republic’s open-for-business principle has encouraged Private Public Partnerships and welcomes institutions like churches that want to construct schools, especially public schools that will increase access to education for the majority of our pupils located in both rural and urban areas,” said Minister Moyo.
“In that regard, may I express my sincere appreciation to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints for its partnership with the Second Republic through my ministry, in the provision of school facilities,” he said.
Minister Moyo said the new infrastructure in schools shows the commitment of the education sector to human capital development.
“By offering them state-of-the-art teaching spaces, we are equipping them with the tools they need to inspire and educate the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and innovators.
“We recognise the pivotal role that teachers play in shaping young minds, and it is our duty to provide them with an environment conducive to effective teaching and learning,” said the minister while calling for more collaborative efforts across the country.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints southern region communication director Mr Sandile Makasi said the church was happy that it was positively impacting communities, particularly children.
“The project is significant to us because its improving th quality of education for our children.
“The impact as we may have seen going around the different schools will be huge. Hundreds of children are going to benefit from this.
“We consider each child and the benefit this is for them,” he said.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube, whose office was critical in securing the partnership with the church, said the church has made a significant impact in addressing some of the challenges in the education sector in the city.
“The province has schools in the urban and peri-urban. It has a total of 147 Primary Schools and 58 secondary schools.
“These schools are characterised by very high enrolments hence soem have as many as 2 000 pupils making it very difficult for the schools to provide adequate infrastructure,” she said. — @nqotshili