ZPCS bails out school after violent storm

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

ZPCS bails out school after violent storm

Fungai Lupande

Mashonaland Central Bureau

Nyava Primary School in Bindura is being rehabilitated by a team of supervised prisoners from Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) following a storm that blew off the roofs of six classrooms on November 25 last year, causing extensive damage.

The classroom block assigned to early childhood development and the infants section and one teachers’ house were most affected by the disaster. Since then, the school has resorted to having some learners coming for lessons in the morning and others in the afternoon to ensure everyone is accommodated.

Nyava Primary, which was opened in 1916, has an enrolment of 1 350 learners and serves 13 villages, mostly members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church.

The gumtree poles used as roof trusses have since been consumed by termites, making them susceptible to strong winds. Before the storm, Nyava Primary deputy head Mrs Elizabeth Chitate has indicated that plans were underway to renovate the roofs. Now, besides the damaged classrooms, three more classrooms have sagging roofs and require urgent attention.

Mrs Chitate said as the roofs were being blown away, they affected electricity cables.

“Our infant department up to Grade 2 were left without classrooms. We ended up having some classes outside,” she said. “Books and furniture were damaged that day. We managed to buy cement and roofing timber to rebuild the school. However, we could not afford to buy new iron sheets and we used the old ones. We were lucky that they were not extensively damaged.”

Mrs Chitate thanked the provincial education office for linking them with the ZPCS.

The team from ZPCS, including five inmates, started working at the school on February 8 and one block with four classrooms is already complete.

“We are appealing for assistance to attend to the remaining block with three classrooms, whose roof is in a bad state. Parents are our stakeholders but some are owing the school in terms of school fees amounting to over US$10 000.

“We are trying to enforce compliance on school fees payment to enable the school to renovate the remaining classrooms. We are losing some learners who have arrears to private schools.”

Some families, said Mrs Chitate, rely on farming or would be taking care of orphaned children, resulting in them struggling to pay school fees.

Teacher-in-charge at the school, Mrs Patience Munashe, said they have rolled and hung electricity cables on trees after the disaster.

The transformer was affected by lightning and the school does not have electricity until now.

A parent, Mr Damson Maulana from Nzvere Village whose grandson is in the ECD class, conceded they have not been paying school fees as expected. Erratic rains caused by El Nino, have left parents channelling every cent they have towards food given the anticipated food shortages.

Chief correctional officer Mr John Shamu said the gang from Bindura prison started with truss construction and reconstruction of the structures.

“We have completed four classrooms and they are ready for use. We are now attending to a block with two classrooms,” he said. “As we are giving back to the community, we are also teaching our inmates carpentry and bricklaying. This is part of our rehabilitation programme so that they go back into society with skills in construction.”

Mr Shamu said the roof was in a bad state before the storm, adding that the other blocks also require rehabilitation.

He said ZPCS was complementing Vision 2030 of an upper middle income society.

“Empowering people is another way of building the nation because once the inmates are released, they will desist from criminal activities. We can only attract investors when the country is crime-free,” he said.

Provincial Education Officer Dr Themba Mangwiro said they were encouraging school heads to inspect their infrastructure for the safety of learners. Termites were a challenge in the province and there was a need to engage professional people for termite treatment. In terms of non-payment of school fees by parents, Dr Mangwiro conceded that it was a challenge in rural areas.

“Our principals are also addressing the issues of timeous payment of BEAM (Basic Education Assistance Module) through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Soon, it will be a thing of the past,” he said.