By John Masuku
LENGTHY Covid-19 lockdowns exposed gaps in students and parents’ preparedness for survival, focus, continuity and resilience in times of unexpected pandemics.
Of major concern were daily reports of many students completely abandoning studies and engaging in premarital sex, drug and alcohol abuse as well as becoming completely idle due to delays in schools reopening. They even shelved reading for leisure and self development.
Australia-based Zimbabwean Anglican priest Reverend Dr Gift Makwasha’s book titled High School Education: The Key To Your Elevation is designed for students, parents and those in educational leadership. It keeps everyone prepared and forward-looking, regardless of any unforeseen circumstances.
“This book is a must read for every young person and their families, no matter their upbringing, income or where in the world they live,” wrote Tracey Gray Principal of Sapphire Coast Anglican College, New South Wales, Australia in her review of the book.
“In a rapidly evolving educational landscape, Dr Makwasha delivered excellent foundational advice on making the most of the opportunities provided by education and positioning ourselves for elevation.”
Equally full of praise for the book is Patony Ngoni Musendo, lawyer, author’s mentee and churchwarden at St Peter’s Anglican Church Mabelreign, Harare Makwasha’s last local parish before migrating to Australia.
“I have spent more than 20 years of my life working very closely with high school students in leadership, life coaching and mentoring,” Musendo said.
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“The relevant and beneficial life lessons are numerous and made especially attractive and exciting as they come from the life stories given, the scripture base and concepts shared.”
In High School Education, Makwasha and some high-flying youngsters invited to share their personal reflections largely anchored their life testimonies based on scripture.
Unlike the author, very few would be so candid to openly write about any shameful and laughable upbringing as observed by Noah Mbano an academic at Curtin University of Technology in Perth Australia where the Boston Massachusetts University, United States-trained Makwasha is now a priest at Gift Makwasha.
“If you are a teenager wondering why on earth you are in high school or an adult still pondering your purpose in life then having this book in your hands is the first positive step towards a ‘purpose driven’ life and an understanding of God’s plan for you!” said Mbano.
As largely replicated in current lockdown experiences, Makwasha prefaces his book about how he witnessed an early life of domestic violence caused by ever drunk parents with his father openly rejecting him as his biological son and eventually, divorcing his foul mouthed mother, followed with attendant misery, abject poverty and dropping out of school.
“Going to school was a struggle. I only completed primary school because it was free education in the 1980s,” wrote Makwasha, who spent some time not going to school, often feeding from food left-overs at garbage dumpsites and being given clothes by friends from his neighbourhood in the Raffingora farming area of Mashonaland West province.
“I barely passed Grade 7 because I had no purpose in life. Education meant nothing to me.
“I only went to school because every kid in the village did. I do not think that even my mother understood the purpose of education because she never paid a penny for school fees during Form One and Form Two years.
“I always had the lowest marks compared to everyone in my class save for one boy who was probably autistic.”
After being surprisingly admitted into Form 3 despite a very poor fee payment record “The Ancestor” as Makwasha is affectionately called by his theological students since he teaches culture and religion courses, wrote that it just dawned to him one day that he had to take education seriously.
He also begged his mother to change her mind as he seriously pleaded with her,
“Mother please do whatever you can, I want to go back to school”, to which she replied hopelessly: “My son. You know my struggles, I cannot afford to send you to school, I have no-one to help me pay your school fees.”
Even though Makwasha, who had no school uniform and shoes was not allowed to attend classes from Monday to Friday because of school fee deficits, he copied notes from friends and literally burnt the midnight candle in order to catch up and eventually became a top student through and through, becoming the first at his school to complete O’ Levels with As and Bs.
With the help of well-wishers, he later studied Theology at the Gaul House Anglican Theological College where in later years he became Dean of Studies and University of Zimbabwe before pursuing further studies in the US.
Being optimistic, visionary, enthusiastic, focused, self-assured, productive and disciplined are some captivating strategies in the book that certainly motivates the reader to never make unnecessary U-turns in life.
Without strategy, stresses Makwasha, you are likely to fail or underperform repeating that “Strategy is key”.
High School Education: The Key To Your Elevation is borne out of a series of sermons and motivational lectures which the proverbial “rugs to riches” Makwasha shared with students as the school chaplain at the prestigious Arundel Girls’ High School in Harare who included children from some of the most elite families in the capital city.
“Today I am living my dream of publishing these motivational talks for students which were also sermons at St Mary Magdalene, Avondale and St Peter’s Mabelreign in Harare,” writes Makwasha.
“This book is meant to fire you up to take your high school education seriously. I believe that if you do, you will one day have a story to tell. If you are in high school and holding this book in your hands, I guarantee you that you have positioned yourself for elevation.”
Published in 2020 by Gift Media Incorporated of Madokero, Harare and available on Amazon, High School Education is meant to change students and parents’ attitude towards high school education, motivating them not to settle for less as the writer shares spiritual insights and ways on how to get the most out of a learner’s life at high school and beyond as testified in the book by different young professionals who have made it in various fields like medicine, engineering, people management and ecumenism.
- The reviewer, John Masuku, a journalism trainer and media consultant, is the editor of The Trumpet, the e-magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Harare. He is reachable on: email@example.com