Science kits for secondary schools in remotest Zimbabwe
By Richard Nyamanhindi
Deep in the Midlands Province, the pupils of Gomoguru Secondary School in Gokwe South District spot a cloud of dust rising on the escarpment. They begin to run around the school in preparation for the arrival of the long awaited science kits.
The dust is kicked up by a coming vehicle. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with support from UNICEF are delivering science kits under the Zimbabwe Science Project. This is the first time that Gomoguru is receiving science equipment since the school was established in the mid-1980s.
With an enrolment of 433 pupils, the majority has never seen a beaker or spatula. For them science has been all theory.
The majority of the secondary graduates from the remotest parts of the country such as Gokwe graduate from secondary schools without having carried out a single experiment, lessening any chances of becoming engineers or doctors.
However, with the recently procured science kits, the situation in the most remote schools is set to change.
Mr. Samson Madhaka, the Headmaster of Gomoguru Secondary School is ecstatic at the sight of the kits. He almost jumps with joy and cannot believe that finally pupils and teachers at the school can now carry out practical experiments during their science lessons.
“Our pupils have never carried out any practical’s during their science lessons. We could not afford to buy for ourselves and this was affecting our pass rates. We are really grateful for this equipment and surely it is going to change the way science is taught here in Gokwe and the rest of rural Zimbabwe,” says Mr. Madhaka.
Zimbabwe’s rural schools continue to face a number of challenges as a result of the economic downturn faced between 2006 and 2009 that left a lot of schools without teachers and adequate infrastructure.
Despite having one of the highest literacy rate in Africa, the teaching and learning of science and the performance of learners has continued to be affected by a number of challenges – among them inadequate resources for effective practical activities, shortages of trained science teachers and inappropriate teaching methodologies.
According to Mr. Absolom Mazarani a science teacher at the school, there will be a great improvement with the science kits and they will go a long way in improving the pass rates of science especially among girls who have been shunning the subject saying it is difficult.
“These science kits were much needed at our school. In the previous years we have witnessed a dismal performance of our pupils especially in science, which they considered difficult because we did not have the right equipment. Come next year we will definitely see a significant increase in the number of pupils passing the subject especially among girls who were shunning the subject,” said Mazarani.
Bringing education for all children in Zimbabwe
UNICEF, along with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and donors from the Education Development Fund are working hard to ensure every last child in secondary school has access to education in Zimbabwe.
They are supporting the Zim-science kits programme, following the successful distribution of textbooks two years and the Second Chance Education Programme among those children who have dropped out of school.
Chipo, a Form Three pupil at the school cannot believe that she could one day carry out an experiment during her science class lesson. She still cannot believe that the kits are theirs to use. “Are we going to use and give them back?” she asks without total confidence that the science kits will be part of her science lessons until she has completed her studies.
The science kits are providing user-friendly apparatus and chemicals to all the 2,336 secondary schools in the country. Each science kit comprises of 186 sets of different items, 46 of which are chemicals.
Reaching remotest Zimbabwe
In partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, UNICEF and its teams of dedicated staff are reaching the areas of Zimbabwe that are hardest to access.
The distribution of science kits started in February 2014 and will continue until the end of April, by which time all secondary schools in the country no matter where they are should have received their kit.