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Dete Community Rebuilds School After Storm Damages

Ndangababi Primary school after community intervention...The school has an enrolment of about 750 learners. Image by The Citizen Bulletin

BY LETHOKUHLE NKOMO | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAR 2, 2022

To encourage local ownership, the community provides bricks, fetch water and manual labour while the partners take care of other necessary resources.

HWANGE (The Citizen Bulletin) — In 2019, a violent storm accompanied by strong winds hit Ndangababi primary school in Dete, Matabeleland North, leaving a trail of destruction.

Classrooms were left without rooftops, windows broken and trusses dangerously dangling after the storm.

For three years, learners endured lessons in the damaged classrooms, their books often blown away as there was no protection from the wind, and the rain.

This was despite provincial education authorities promising urgent intervention.

“The wind makes too much noise, you can’t hear the teacher or each other anymore,” a Grade 7 student says.

One of the blocks cracked through the centre of a classroom block, along the roof as well as at the corners of the building rendering it unsafe for learning.

Without any help coming, villagers picked up shovels, moulded bricks and provided manual labour to start rebuilding the school.

Hwange District Residents Association deputy chairperson Donnie Mwembe says the council was reluctant to provide assistance to renovate the school.

“We had to push the council to rebuild the walls of the school. Council was reluctant. We had to come together as residents and question the council on their priorities,” Mwembe says.

“As Hwange District Associations, we also realised that our children need to learn in a better environment. We also engaged some organisations affiliated to us to help us source building materials.”

Ndangababi Primary school is one of the biggest schools under the Hwange (RDC) with an enrolment of about 750 learners.

Ndangababi primary school after i was hit by a violent storm in 2019. Image by The Citizen Bulletin

Local councillor Cosmas Mwakiposa says the rebuilding of Ndangababi School has been a collective effort.

“We are still renovating the school and we really appreciate the efforts of everyone involved,” Mwakiposa says.

“Hwange ZRP helped us in carpentry, painting and builders for the classes. As a community we assisted in fetching water for building the blocks as well as clearing the school as the school was now a construction site.”

The chiefs and community leaders are equally involved, mobilising the community, organising tasks, supervising the work and ensuring that community members stay motivated.

When the builders came, the community members assisted the builders in all the ways they could, mostly providing manual labour.  

“I took advantage of the lockdown and helped in the cleaning and fetching of water for the building. The state of the school was not conducive for any learner,” says Veronica Mhlanga, a parent with a child learning at Ndangababi School.

“Before the renovations, as a parent I would send my grade two boy to school with a heavy heart. I was not sure if he was safe around those dilapidated classroom blocks.”

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While renovations are not yet complete, with shortages of classroom fortnight also glare, a Dete local businessman, Jay Sansole believes learners will be inspired to post positive results.

“The problem left for Ndangababi is the low pass rate,” Sansole says.

Due to the low pass rate parents are forced to transfer their children to other schools.

“The school Development Association is aware of the low pass rate, we have engaged them through the Hwange District Education Inspector to address this. “But we are hopeful that with a conducive learning environment, the pass rate may improve,” he says.

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