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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

still not open

Matopo Primary School is still not open--nor are any of the schools in the Matopo area. They were due to open a couple of weeks ago, but there are many problems. One is that the teachers have not been paid for several months, and also not received any compensation for the time they put it at the voting polls last spring. They have also not been given anything for the time they spent checking the exams taken at the end of the last term.
Of course, even if they had been paid, the money is worthless anyway.

Another worry is that the cholera which has caused so many deaths in the rest of the country has not yet come to Matopo. There are concerns that when teachers and pupils from contaminated areas return to Matopo they will bring the dreaded disease with them.

A parcel I sent to the school last December 18th finally arrived last week! I had just about given up all hope.

Travelling in Zimbabwe now is getting dangerous--we heard reports of banditry along the way from Beit Bridge, which is where we usually cross into Zimbabwe from South Africa. Going to have to find another route this time...

I'm working on getting some corporate support for the project--as generous as the English Teachers Association has been, the funds raised so far just keep the school from drowning. For serious projects, more money is needed. Any ideas out there?


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

School opens on a difficult note

Most schools in Zimbabwe have closed, due to lack of resources, including teachers, many of whom have fled the country in the face of the present hardships.

An exception is Matopo Primary School, where Patson Mpofu, the Deputy Headmaster, and Newman Ncube, the Headmaster, are determined to stay the course. Thanks to the donations of the English Teachers' Association of Switzerland and other generous benefactors, the school is better off than the majority of schools there--they have books, materials, and 9 teachers.

What they don't have is electricity, needed not to run the non-existent computers or even lights, but the water pump. Denis Paul, our friend who has helped so much in keeping things going at Matopo, has promised to try and help out with that problem. Denis is also organizing a food package to tide the teachers and their families over--they have not been paid for many months.

The infrastructure in the whole country is breaking down. What you read in the newspapers and hear on the news about cholera and the crippled health care system is all true, and phone lines and the post are also providing very sporadic service.

What is so frustrating for me is that during my teacher training workshops there I was able to observe how well-trained and competent the teachers are. If only they had the means to do their jobs, the education system in Zimbabwe could once again be the best in Africa. The will is there, the motivation is there. People outside the country are willing to support those professionals and help those kids.

Why can't it happen?