ABOUT 45km from the City of Kings and Queens, Bulawayo, is a day school Sojini High, about a kilometre off the Bulawayo-Harare Road, which has an enrolment of 550 students.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The school in Mbembesi, Umguza district, is surrounded by a bushy environment, a few shops nearby with sparsely positioned homesteads in the hinterland.
On arrival, one is met by few grazing livestock and a handful of local residents minding their business.
The school’s grounds came to life at the weekend when they received unusual visitors.
The Scottish cricket national team were the super guests, and thrilled their hosts by playing mock cricket and football games.
The institution has transcended the erstwhile perception that schools from a rural set-up cannot produce excelling students. One such student is Sibusisiwe Manenke (19), who passed her A Levels with 11 points when she sat for the Zimsec examinations last year.
Manenke came out with an A, four Bs and a C at Ordinary Level before she proceeded to A Level, where she got an A in Ndebele, B in History and a D in Geography.
She has already enrolled at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytech in Gwanda where she is doing mechanical engineering.
All this is courtesy of a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid, whose aim is to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty – Department for International Development (DFID), who are assisting locals through its partner Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) Zimbabwe.
Its through the help of DFID that Cricket Scotland, who are in the country for the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifiers, arrived in Mbembesi.
“When I was in Form One, I was continuously being sent home because of failure to pay schools fees and consequently dropped out. Camfed came on board. They singled me out and brought me back into school and that is when I returned to school. In Form Three I got a bursary and in Form Four they registered me and I passed seven O Level subjects and went to A Level. I would like to thank Camfed and wish they continue helping other students.”
Besides catering for Manenke’s school requirements like fees, stationery and uniforms, Camfed also provided the student with other essentials such as sanitary pads.
She is one of the many students at the school that Camfed is helping out.
According to Camfed national director Faith Nkala, 26 girls and eight boys from the school are benefitting from their DFID-funded programme.
Head of DFID Zimbabwe, Annabel Gerry was ecstatic with the project, saying £26 million has been injected to date and assisted a total of 45 000 girls since 2012.
“This project is about keeping girls in school. Girls will not normally get the chance. You can see that through one child’s education, she then has a family and transforms many lives around her. They are lovely role models in the school working with other children. It’s really fantastic to be here to see the difference the project is making in girls’ lives. So far we have supported in 995 schools and have supported in total 45 000 girls to complete Form One to Form Four. It’s a huge achievement and we have worked together with Camfed, who deliver the project here and are involved in all the communities. It’s a brilliant partnership that I am very proud of,” Gerry said.
Cricket Scotland official, Grant Bradburn led the squad at the school, which included skipper, Kyle Coetzer, Ali Evans, Mark Watt, Craig Wallace and George Munsey, who interacted with the students.
Coetzer said it was a special moment being around the school children.
“We are privileged to be here today. Education is very important not only for the children but the people in Zimbabwe and also around the world. We are very fortunate from where we come from that education is just something that happens every day. Where we come from there are never any issues with funding. For us, coming here today is very special to support all the work that is being done here by Camfed and UK Aid. It is a special occasion for us. It was really a great day and great experience for us,” Coetzer said.