It is a well known fact that Zimbabwe is a nation in dire need of resources, funding and international aid, but while a sceptical international community are understandably loath to give the Government of National Unity are additional funding while Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF elect loiter in the wings, it falls at the feet of Zimbabweans around the world to make every effort to try and bring relief to the struggling Zimbabwean people.
This week it has been my pleasure to be introduced to a fellow Zimbabwean, who’s passion for her nation and irresolute desire to see Zimbabwe grow has lead her to launch an organisation aimed at providing the critical support to the teaching infrastructure in Zimbabwe that she hopes long term will help with improving the educational standards for students of the schools that Zimbabwe Teachers Network partners with in their endeavour to assist with Zimbabwean education. As the director of Safe Haven Trust it has been very rewarding to talk with Zimbabwean Teachers Network and explore the potential of a partnership to help the children of Zimbabwe.
Munashe Moyo-Godo is one of the most humble and forthright people you will ever meet. A teacher herself, her passion for education is deep routed, and from early in her upbringing she has always cherished learning as the cornerstone of her career. Now living in the UK and in a position to help with establishing a network of like minded Zimbabweans, support agencies, teachers and donors alike, Munashe has set about launching the Zimbabwe Teachers Network here in the UK. With its launch event a few weeks away, Munashe is at the root of a massive effort to bring the plight of teachers in Zimbabwe to the fore front of people attention and make every effort to provide support and funding for projects in Zimbabwe.
Education in Zimbabwe is in a shambles after the economy of the nation collapsed and the support structures for national education fell from beneath the feet of the Ministry of Education. Working with a budget of less than one tenth of what is really required, Education Minister David Coultard knows that without help the situation will only get worse. From being one of the most literate nations in Africa, barely 20% of the students in Zimbabwe today achieve an “O” level pass mark as thousands of children are trapped in the throes of hopelessness. The average school fees for a student attending a government facility range from US$15 to US$35 per term, a figure many families fail to raise leaving a vast number of children without access to education. Teachers earn as little as US$150 a month and must try to house, feed and transport themselves while remaining committed to providing an education to hundreds of students with little in the way of materials, support or incentive. It is any wonder that children anywhere in Zimbabwe are being educated at all.
Teachers have recently begun to return to the educational system in Zimbabwe under the hope that the GNU will bring about a change in the schooling system in the country, but frustrations and empty promises have meant many have taken to strike action and staying away furthering leading to a situation of desperation within the schools that are trying to stay open and offer children a chance. Teachers need support from sustainable sources, in both the provision of resources and fundamental ongoing training and provision of information in order to be effective, and provide a meaningful service to the educational system. The importance of education of tomorrows generation cannot be stressed enough, as these are the very people that carry the hopes and aspirations of a nation. Education lies at the very heart of civilisation and for this reason support must start from the roots in giving teachers a network of alliances and relief necessary to be the best that they can be.
Working on the principal that “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle,” (A James Keller quote) the Zimbabwe Teachers Network aim to provide support to teachers first and foremost. It is their desire to provide inspiration and the tools required to equip teachers with the ongoing skills of imparting noteworthy education to the children of Zimbabwe. They aspire to restock and create libraries and resource centres within schools, work in partnership with schools to ensure that their teachers are given a platform to exchange ideas and transfer skills between educators, teachers and students. The organisation hopes to encourage partnership through twining schools abroad with schools in Zimbabwe and giving teachers the opportunity to work on exchange programs that will continue to grow their skills and value as a teacher. Zimbabwe Teachers Network will also undertake research on sociological, psychological and philosophical issues affecting teaching and learning in Zimbabwe with a view towards improving the education that is offered both by the curriculum and teachers alike.
This hands on approach towards education in Zimbabwe will meet the needs of a nation hungry for help as it strives to pull itself into the 21st century. It is heart-warming to see Zimbabweans at the very core of this endeavour and it is this realisation of Zimbabweans that the international community are not going to do it for them that has lead to leadership arising from many corners. It is the grim reality that faces Zimbabweans in every facet of life daily. A nation on the edge, being held together by the determination and effort of those who are lucky enough to live abroad pouring back millions of dollars in personal finances that keep the country afloat. Much of Zimbabwe relies on the efforts of its people living in the Diaspora to survive while its leaders milk the country dry of its natural resource and international aid. While it is heart warming to see such commitment and drive, it is without our help that this nation and its people survive. Wonder then if you will how much more could be achieved by such organisations with a little help from the rest of us. We are all living through tough times, but the reality for us is that we can afford to miss £5 a month to support such an effort and still live a life of comfort and ease, while reality for Zimbabweans is that without our support they will go completely without.
My challenge to you today is to search your heart and find it within yourself to not allow people with so much soul, grit and determination not to fight on alone. I challenge each of you reading this post today to find it within yourself to put your money where your mouth is and pledge your support to the type of organisation that you know will change people’s lives right now. Safe Haven Trust and Zimbabwe Teachers Network are just two of the groups that you could support, groups that will be able to make a difference right now, and groups that really do need your help to survive. Make a difference today.