Matopo Primary School

The Matopo Primary School Teacher-to-Teacher project is documented here. It is kindly being supported by ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) and the Roger Federer Foundation.

Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 AGM Final Update on Teacher-to-Teacher Project

As Teacher-to-Teacher coordinator for the ETAS Matopo Project, Cindy Hauert gave the final update on this very successful project during the 2015 Annual General Meeting of ETAS Members. The project, which gained significant support from the Roger Federer Foundation, as well as the Cologny Municipality in the Canton of Geneva, has raised enough funds to allow all the girls who started the program to finish their high school education. What an accomplishment for them -- thanks to the generous efforts of ETAS members and supporters of this Teacher-To-Teacher project.

A special word of thanks to Cindy Hauert, among others for her engagement and leadership in the project since its inception, to Raymond Rogers for his financial advice and assistance over the years, and Ruth Jakobs for visiting the project and sharing an update and her pictures at the PD Day Conference in September 2014. This was truly a worthy project and a jewel in the crown of ETAS' Milestones.

JoAnn Salvisberg
ETAS President, 2014-2017

Summer 2014 Teacher-to-Teacher 'Matopo Project' Update

Ruth Jakob's Presentation – PD Day – August 2014

Spring 2013 Teacher-to-Teacher 'Matopo Project' Update

Spring 2013

Scholarship recipients and dormitory update

“Educate a woman, you educate a nation,” said Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, speaking on the importance of girls’ education at the 4th annual Women’s Parliament Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, on 28th August 2007. 

These are fine-sounding words and similar sentiments have been proclaimed on many occasions by ‘well-meaning’ pundits around the globe. However, it often seems that the more people talk, the less anything really happens. But we in ETAS walk the talk! Just read on to find out what has happened since my last report, thanks to your engagement and support, ETAS members and friends. 

First, I am pleased to present here eight of the 10 new girls who will join our girls’ scholarship program in 2013. The girls are 12 and 13 years old, and in many cases are either orphaned or living with a single parent or with grandparents. When Norma Ferguson (our partner on the ground in Matopo whom you have previously read about here) interviewed the young ladies, she found that all of them have family obligations, such as garden duty, in addition to their schoolwork, as well as various hobbies and interests. For many local families, home gardens are not only sources of daily bread but also of small income. 

I was impressed to note that aside from wishing to pursue familiar professions such as teaching or nursing, several of the girls dream of becoming business managers and lawyers! As these young women have been chosen to participate in the program based not only on their disadvantaged home circumstances but also on scholarly merit, this does not really surprise me. Nevertheless, I’m inordinately pleased to see it. True, these are only dreams at this stage, but we are giving the girls a chance to make their dreams come true. This is what I mean by walking the talk! 

Second, some no less exciting news is that our vision of building a separate dormitory for our scholarship recipients is coming true! All credit and thanks for this achievement must go to ETAS member and current Treasurer Raymond Rogers, who spent a lot of time going around with hat in hand to banks and other sponsors to obtain the necessary funds. As I write, the dorm is nearly finished and the girls will be able to move in at the end of January. They are simply thrilled to have their own space to work, study, and socialize, and I have no doubt that this improvement in their lives will reap results in the classroom and beyond. This is what I mean by walking the talk! 

I’m already looking forward to being there in person in August and meeting this year’s scholars for the first time. As well, I look forward to seeing how the 10 scholarship beneficiaries for 2012 are getting on. In the meantime, plans are also afoot to organize several volunteers from ETAS and Hochschule Luzern (where I teach) to help the girls with their English. I really hope this works out: it would indeed show how we are walking the talk! More to follow… 

Cindy Hauert

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring 2012 Teacher-to-Teacher Project, Matopo, Zimbabwe, by Cindy Hauert The “Send-a-girl-to-secondary-school” project has gotten off to a flying start! The new school term began in January and 10 girls, drawn from the 5 primary schools in our project, moved into their temporary dormitory and prepared to start a new phase in their lives. Heady stuff for these 12 to13-year-olds! This is all thanks to YOU, ETAS members and friends, who have so generously given these girls a chance for a brighter future. Norma Ferguson, our partner on the ground in Matopo, has been a key player in the new initiative, organizing uniforms and other necessities for the girls. She went to Silobi Secondary School in February to talk to them and take some photographs. This is what she wrote me: “The girls were very shy. I chatted to them individually as I thought they would be more forthcoming that way than as a bunch.” Norma went on to say that the girls gradually warmed to her kind-hearted approach and, though struggling with their English, managed to communicate something about themselves. Below is Norma’s report. Nokukhanya Hadebe (her name means “Mother of light”) lives with her mother and father and a younger sister and brother. Her mother knits jerseys and sells them when she can and her father sells firewood (most of which, Norma reports with some chagrin, is “poached” from Norma’s farm…). They have a small garden that feeds them but it is not big enough to produce any marketable surplus. Nokukhanya likes netball and singing. Her favourite subject is History, and she would like to be an English teacher. Beatrice Masuku lives with her widowed aunt, who is one of the best of Norma’s Sewing Cooperative members. There are 4 children in their homestead. One of the children is on ARV’s. There is a vegetable garden they help with. The aunt is able to grow for the family and even sell a little surplus. Beatrice likes to make dolls’ dresses for her younger cousins, and is good at netball and singing. Her best subject at school is Maths but she likes Science most. She would like to be a nurse when she leaves school. Siduduzile Mthunzi (her name means Comfort + Shade) lives with her grandmother, as her Mother is in South Africa and her father deceased. Her mother is sometimes able to send some money home. Her grandmother has a garden that feeds them and also provides a little extra income. She has taught Siduduzile to knit a little. Siduduzile’s best subject is History—her favourite one, English. She would like to be a teacher. Blessings Sibanda (her surname means “lion”) lives with her grandparents who are farmers. Her parents live in Bulawayo and are both unemployed. She likes to sing and play netball. Her best subject is English, though she prefers Science. She would like to train to be a nurse. Petronella Ntini (meaning “otter”) lives with her mother and 6 others in a household. Her father is in South Africa and sends money home regularly. They have a garden which feeds them and provides a little income. She likes to read and is good at netball. Her best subject is Maths and she likes Ndebele too. Chesesu Smanga (Brightness + Wonder) lives with her grandmother who is 98! Her mother works in Bulawayo. They have a small garden that supports 2 brothers and 2 cousins. Her grandmother has taught her to knit a little and make rag mats. She likes netball, and her best and favourite subject at school is History. She would like to be a teacher. Grace Mlilo (meaning “fire”) lives with her mother and father and has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. They grow vegetables and manage to sell some as well in town. Grace likes to run and play netball and enjoys singing as well. Her best subject is Ndebele and she likes Science. She would like to be a teacher. Gracious Sibanda (another “lion”) lives with her grandmother and mother. Her father is deceased. Her uncle is the Chief in the area and helps them out with food. She likes playing netball and her best subject is Agriculture. She also likes History and would like to be a nurse. Anita Ncube (which means “baboon”) lives with her grandmother and father. Her father gets piece work and also cultivates a small garden. She has a sister and 2 brothers; the sister and one brother are pupils at Silobi Secondary as well. She likes netball and being with her friends. Anita likes to sing and her best—and favourite—subject is science. Not surprisingly, she would like to be a nurse. We shouldn’t leave out Matron, Nesihlobo Moyo (“we have many relatives” + “heart”). She grew up in Kezi, schooled in Plumtree and attended Hillside Teachers’ Training College in Bulawayo, graduating in 2007. She majored in Ndebele (the local language) and Music. She has been at Silobi Secondary for 4 years. She enjoys supervising the girls’ hostel, a task she has taken on voluntarily (she doesn’t receive any extra pay). Nesihlobo loves reading and in a few years, when her brother, whose schooling she is paying for, has finished his studies, she would like to do further education in Human Resource Management. A most urgent problem is accommodation. The girls are very crowded now, with 25 girls in a hostel that has 5 bedrooms and one living room. We are investigating the possibility of sourcing a big donation—CHF 215,000 is needed—to build a new dormitory. We will be keeping you up-to-date on the girls’ doings as the year progresses. It won’t be easy for them, being away from home for the first time and faced with so many new challenges. But they have such hope in their hearts that I think they have a good chance at making a go of it. Don’t forget that we are already collecting funds for the next 10 girls to start in 2013. The AGM in Yverdon made a record-breaking CHF 2,200, but we need CHF 6,000 per year to send 10 girls for a year of secondary school. Would you like to be a part of it? Please contact me for more information. Donations of any amount are welcome. Thank you once again to all of you who are helping to change Matopo girls’ lives with your support. Cindy Hauert

Friday, October 14, 2011

Visit August 2011

Teacher-to-Teacher Project, Matopo, Zimbabwe, by Cindy Hauert

Zimbabwe customs officials just don’t seem to like tourists. We had to use all of our wits, and even cheat a little (don’t ask) to finally get across the border from South Africa to Zimbabwe…but we made it. As we wended our way along the dusty, pot-holed road towards Matopo, it was lovely sunny weather and we spotted a few vervet monkeys playing on the smooth rounded high rocks that are typical of the region. I was really looking forward to the 6th annual Teachers’ Workshop Day, and seeing the progress the seven schools had made since our last trip.

Just as we rounded a curve, whom should we spot but our partners on the ground in the project, Norma and Chris Ferguson. They were showing some American volunteers around the area and all of us were overjoyed at the chance encounter. We stopped right away, took our folding camp chairs out of the Land Rover and settled in for a nice chat and a snack. Later that afternoon, Norma and two of the volunteers helped me pack the bags for the big event on Saturday.

Unfortunately the warm spell was short-lived, and the next day winter came back with a vengeance. But the atmosphere for the workshop was warmed by the good cheer and enthusiasm of the 62 teachers who came to take part in the day’s activities. The program this year focused on fluency vs. accuracy, a new concept to most of the teachers who tend to stick to the tried-and-true rote learning methods of days of yore. I think everybody came away with a new understanding of how a mix of types of activities can liven up their classes and make learning more fun. We also tried out some TPR (Total Physical Response) games that soon had everyone laughing and moving around the large room. Each primary school in the project cluster received a copy of Graham Workman’s book, “TPR for Primary English”, which he kindly donated for the event.

We were incredibly busy during the rest of our stay, meeting with the school Heads, touring all of the schools to admire newly painted blackboards and walls, and brainstorming ideas for the project next year. We also took a look at the proposed site of a girls’ dormitory we are hoping to build at Silobi Secondary School. As we stood in the sun (but shivered in a freezing wind), we were taken aback to spot a Cape Cobra slithering through the brush just in front of our feet! We were assured that once the building started the snake population would move elsewhere!

Everyone is tremendously excited about the new ETAS initiative, “send-a-girl-to-secondary-school”. The Heads of the 6 primary schools have already started working on details about how the girls will be chosen. We hope to be able to collect enough funds to send 10 girls starting in 2012. At a cost of US$600.00 per girl per year, that means we need a total of US$18,000.00 (each girl must be assured of 3 years). At the time of writing, we’ve collected US$13,000.00. This amount includes a record-breaking raffle intake at the SIG Day in Zug, so we still have a way to go to reach our goal. Please contact me if you are interested in helping.

A fascinating book I’ve been reading, “Half the Sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide”, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, is about fighting poverty in developing countries. The title refers to a Chinese proverb: “Women hold up half the sky”. The book has this to say about girls’ education: “One study after another has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty.” We can’t do anything about Mugabe and his cronies’ plundering of the country’s resources, but we can make sure that at least 10 girls have the chance to escape the cycle of poverty that will be their fate without further education.

I hope you will join us in giving ten girls a chance to hold up half the sky.

Cindy Hauert

Thursday, January 27, 2011

send a girl to secondary school initiative

It’s been an incredible year! As you all probably know, my husband Peter and I were in Zimbabwe last July to work on our project, visiting all of the schools, officially opening the new toilets which ETAS funds built at Matopo Primary School, and running the annual, ever-popular Teachers’ Workshop Day. I hope you have had time to read my article in the latest ETAS Journal about our doings. If so, you will also know that our trip almost had a disastrous end—Peter contracted a deadly form of malaria during our holiday trip to the Zambezi River and shortly after our return to Switzerland he collapsed and had to be rushed to hospital. He very nearly died. I’m very happy to tell you that he has recovered now and is eager to start planning our next trip!

The Federer parents, Lynette and Robbie, and Janine Händel, the new CEO of the Federer Foundation, visited the project personally in October 2010. They came back full of praise (and a few criticisms!) for what we have accomplished, and with big ideas about how we should proceed in the future. When I met with Janine in November, she particularly stressed the importance of supporting the teachers in their training and development. You can imagine how glad I was to hear this message—it has been my dearest dream from the start! This is truly the meaning of the ETAS Teacher-to-Teacher project.

To that end, for 2011 we have allocated a large part of the Federer Foundation budget towards reaching this goal by hiring Chris Fergusson, a semi-retired teacher who lives in the area and has been helping his wife, Norma, with her duties as a volunteer partner in our project from the beginning. Norma is responsible for coordinating the orders the schools place for materials and she has also helped to organize workshops aimed at child development programmes and girls’ empowerment training camps. This “power pair” will be our partners on the ground for 2011.

Chris will be giving regular workshops for the Matopo teachers as well as developing various programmes to support, observe and measure their progress. The goal is not to impose our “western” methods or approaches in teaching, but rather to “empower” the teachers in their development. I have big expectations of Chris and he is very enthusiastic, so I am confident that we will make progress.

So because teacher training and development will be getting a big shot in the arm in the coming year, I started thinking about what could be the next project for ETAS to tackle. As I was mulling this over, an ETAS member, Linda Walsh, wrote to me about an idea her 13-year-old daughter had…Sinéad had heard about our project from her mother and wanted to do something to help. Do you know what she and her friend Sara did? They baked cupcakes! Hundreds of them…and sold them at the entrance to their school before Christmas…and earned CHF800.00 for our project!

I was so thrilled and overwhelmed by these girls’ efforts that an idea I’d had on the back burner suddenly became urgent. I’m calling it the “Send-a-girl-to-secondary-school” project, and I’ll be launching it at the AGM in January, where Janine Händel will also be giving a presentation about the Roger Federer Foundation. Sinéad and Sara, as young women reaching out to children far away from where they live, will serve as the impulse behind this exciting new direction I want to take.

Girls in Zimbabwe often don’t get the chance to continue their education, for a number of reasons. Although the Ndebele culture of Matabeleland (southern Zimbabwe) is not particularly discriminatory towards the female sex—many women have important positions in education and government—in the poorest regions, of which Matopo is one, things are not so easy. Girls who have only one parent, or are orphans, are especially at risk of being shut out of further education. The Federer Foundation recognizes this problem and is very keen on supporting girls’ empowerment, so this new ETAS initiative dovetails nicely with our common goals.
On our visits to Matopo over the years, I have met quite a few worthy young ladies and regretted that many of them will never have the chance to reach their potential. This portrait of Princess, a girl I met on our trip last year, is an example of a very talented and ambitious person whose gifts may be wasted for lack of funds. Although primary school in Zimbabwe is obligatory and free, secondary school is usually a boarding situation as the distances are too great for girls to walk every day (10 kilometres or more). And that costs something.

Secondary school in Zimbabwe consists of 3 years, at a cost of (boarding) US$600.00 per year. Would you be willing to make a commitment to a girl’s education, or to making a donation towards her future?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I hope some of you might be interested in this show!