Sporting an all-white outfit, 18-year-old Simbarashe Chibarinya sits on top of a granite block that covers three-quarters of his family’s homestead as he processes a heap of flying termites, known as ishwa in Shona.
By Jairos Saunyama
Despite his hands doing most of the work, it was clear that his mind was a distance away, while his eyes and facial expression denoted a dejected person.
With a necklace that resembles the Roman Catholic rosary dangling from his neck, Simbarashe kept on processing the delicious insects, and never noticed the visitors who had invaded his territory.
He was in deep thought
“I want to sell these ishwa, so that I get some money to spend during the festive season. I have to devise ways of earning a living, I do not see myself gaining something out of education. I had dreams of my own, to enrol for an electrician course at Nyahoni Training Centre but for now it’s a shattered dream,”he said, with his husky voice tone and language laden with slang words, a sign of a boy turning into a man.
Simbarashe’s tale is indeed a sad one
Recently, this newspaper exclusively published the story of a Form 4 pupil who allegedly took home a 2016 O Level Mathematics Paper 2 answer sheet after the school headmaster refused to take it because he had not paid the $5 transport fee to take the scripts to the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) district offices in Chivhu.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education confirmed the incident that occurred on November 4 last year at Mupfururirwa Secondary School in Chikomba District.
The headmaster, Patrick Kanda, according to government, is currently under investigation for alleged gross misconduct.
To get a detailed account of what happened, NewsDay tracked down the victim to his rural home in the remote area of Desve Village in Chivhu. After hours of travelling and at times, on foot , as someof the roads were impassable using a motor car, eventually found Simbarashe and his father at home.
In the scorching sun, Simbarashe was busy processing the termites alates he had trapped the previous night, while his younger siblings were closely watching his movements, waiting for an opportunity to have a taste of the delicacy.
Simbarashe confirmed that he took the answer sheet home after school authorities declined to take it to Chivhu for onward transmission to Zimsec for marking.
“We were told the day before that each student was to bring the money as transport fee. I was not the only person who failed to pay, and I am still shocked as to why the headmaster targeted me among others. After the exam, the invigilator — Ms Tsodzo — collected all other papers except mine.
“Mr Kanda then gave me a white envelope before telling me that I was supposed to take the answer sheet to Zimsec myself because I had not paid the transport fee. I put the script in the envelope and got out of the classroom,” he said.
Simbarashe said, on his way home he met one of the teachers, Madam Chigayo, who advised him to go and ‘sweet-talk’ the headmaster to accept his script since it was illegal to take it home.
“I did exactly as what Madam Chigayo had told me, but the headmaster refused again. I begged and even apologized to him if I had misbehaved before, but he did not consider my plight. He bragged and told me that he had already sealed the envelope. I went home with the script,” said Simbarashe.
He said his father, John Chibarinya (48) looked for the money and gave it to him, but the headmaster still refused to assist him leaving him without an option but to report the matter to police.
“My father was shocked when I arrived home with the answer sheet. He had no money with him, but he had to run around the village and came back with it. I then took the script and the money to the headmaster, surprisingly he received the money and shockingly refused to accept my answer sheet saying that time had lapsed and he cannot accept it.
“I was given the receipt for paying the transport fee. I returned home and told my father what had transpired, and he advised me to report the matter to police, to which I did. I even told Mr Kanda about the police report and he bragged saying that he did not care and he is untouchable,” said Simbarashe.
The matter was reported at Masasa Police Station in Chivhu who took the answer sheet before engaging the district education office. The answer sheet was then handed over to the education inspector identified as Emmanuel Kwenda.
Simbarashe’s father, a peasant farmer who supplements his production through conducting odd jobs was at a loss of words.
His chilling account of how he had struggled to raise the examination fee for Simbarashe would leave the lighthearted shedding tears.
“Simba has a twin brother called Tinashe. I failed to raise money so that both of them would sit for their examination at the same time. So we decided to pay the exam fees for Simba after I got some money. Tinashe missed the exams and he is going to write next year (this year) after I raise the money for him. This is the arrangement.
“I was shocked to see Simba coming home with the answer sheet. The whole story is mind-boggling. As a parent, I want the best for my child. It was better if he had failed on his own, not this. How can someone be so cruel to this extent?”said Chibarinya, before throwing his eyes to the horizon.
His eyes were wet with tears
He said he approached the headmaster over the matter.
“I approached the school head over the issue and he admitted he erred. He even apologised. For now I have to work extra hard so that Simba will get some money to repeat the subject in question. I struggle to get money, but I have no option,”he said.
Simbarashe registered for four subjects: Maths, English, Shona and Geography. If he had passed, according to him, he would have stood a chance of enrolling at the nearby Nyahoni Training Centre, a learning institution located in the constituency that offers technical courses.
“Sometimes I feel it is over for me, I have to find something to do. I do not see myself in school again. Mathematics is a difficult subject and thinking of starting to study afresh haunts me. I do not know, if I raise money by myself, I will re-register the subject,” he said.
For now, he pins his hopes on selling the termite alates. However, the rainy season will be over soon, and he has to devise some ways to cope with a deferred dream.
Mashonaland East provincial education director Christopher Chihota said Kanda erred in conducting his duties and would face disciplinary action. He also castigated the school head for charging transport fees without government approval.