Primary and secondary schools opened on Tuesday, January 13 in Zimbabwe. Among the students who started classes were Munhu’s 588 primary school students and 170 secondary school students. We thank the many donors who are contributing to the education of one or more of our students. It is your support that enables us to keep our students in school, and to give each of them an opportunity for a better and brighter future.
At the primary and secondary levels, the education system in Zimbabwe is similar to the education system in England, and different from the system in the United States. Primary education starts in Grade 1 for children around 6 to 7 years of age, and goes through Grade 7 when children are around 13 to 14 years of age, at which time they sit for the Grade 7 Examinations. Those who pass the examinations continue on to secondary school for four years, from Form 1 to Form 4. At the end of Form 4, students sit for Ordinary Level Examinations, known as O’ Levels for short. Those who pass O’ Levels proceed to high school––that is Form 5 and Form 6. At the end of Form 6, students sit for Advanced Level Examinations (A’ Levels) to determine whether they continue with further education to pursue a degree program at a university or a certificate program at one of the many vocational training colleges across the country.
The school year is divided into trimesters, called school terms, at the primary and secondary levels. The 1st term runs from mid-January to mid-April, the 2nd term from May to August, and the 3rd term from September to December. Students are required to pay tuition—also known as school fees—every school term. Some students, especially those who have been orphaned or those who come from poor families, are often turned away from school because they cannot afford tuition. Munhu’s goal is to support these students by paying their tuition until they reach their educational goals.
In addition to supporting students in primary and secondary schools, we also have students pursuing higher education. Three of our students, Nyasha M., Tapiwanashe M., and Edson M. are pursuing degree programs at the University of Zimbabwe. One student Priscilla M. is working toward a human resources certificate at Mutare Technical College, and another student Debra M. is working toward a teaching certificate at Belvedere Teacher’s College. Zimbabwe’s universities follow the semester system. At the University of Zimbabwe, the first semester runs from August to December, and the second runs from February to June.
We started in 2004 by supporting 15 children in about 10 villages, and today we support students who come from over 60 villages located across 5 of Zimbabwe’s 8 provinces. With your continued support, our vision is to keep increasing the number of students who benefit from Munhu’s education program each year.
Munhu initiated the community grant program in 2010 as a way of providing financial assistance to villagers taking care of orphans left in their care. Munhu awards grants to local communities where our students live. Within each community, the money is then used to provide informal microloans to villagers who start income generating projects. The loans are at 0% interest; and loan recipients agree to repay the loans within a specified period–typically 2 to 3 years, depending on the project. Money from repaid loans is recycled within each community to fund new income generating projects. To date, we have funded 62 groups who have started projects; and of these, 23 have paid back the seed money and the others continue to make monthly instalments.
Munhu makes a difference in people’s lives at the grassroots level by directly connecting the kindness of donors with villagers who need the assistance. Beyond that, Munhu’s philosophy of helping others to help themselves is consistent with the ancient teachings that if you give fish to someone, they will have fish to eat for that one day; but if you show them how to fish, they will eat for the rest of their life. Villagers who receive assistance from Munhu are hardworking, creative, and productive people who have been reduced to destitution by a combination of factors including the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the country’s political unrest, and the collapse of the economy. All they are looking for now is an opportunity to get back on their feet and become productive again so that they can provide for themselves and their dependants.
The community grant program provides:
What is most often the only means of access to capital for villagers in poor rural communities. This program promotes entrepreneurship among the villagers.
An opportunity for the villagers to establish a sustainable means of income to support themselves, their families, and the orphans left in their care.
A means for the villagers to move from poverty and dependency to self-reliance and independence within short timeframes.
Under the community grant program, small cooperative groups operate businesses including raising and selling poultry, running convenience stores, sewing school uniforms, making wire, and buying and selling goods.
Child Headed Households
Munhu assists children who are heads of households. In some instances, when parents die, there is no one to take care of the children left behind. The children are left to face life on their own. The older children, out of neccessity, find themselves heads of households; they need to provide for their younger siblings. We share some stories of the unbeliavable maturity we see in some of these children.
Joseph and Josephat lost their parents at a young age and had to look after each other. Munhu helped the boys to stay in school.
Joseph was born on 20 June 1990 and Josephat was born on 27 October 1992. The two boys lost their parents at the ages of 10 and 8 respectively. Because their father had migrated from his home village to another district, they didn’t have any relatives to take care of them. Joseph and Josephat had to mount the courage to face life on their own. Joseph took the role of supporting his younger brother.
They lived in dilapidated accomodations, a mud hut used for a kitchen and another mud hut used for a bedroom. To earn money to buy food, the boys performed menial jobs for other villagers. They also herded their neighbors’s cattle in exchange for the neighbors ploughing thier piece of land to grow food.
Munhu reached out to help these two amazing brothers and kept them in school. Eventually, the two brothers were adopted by a local physician who sent them to a boarding school. They both completed high school.
Meet Fighton and his sister
Fighton and his sister were being supported by a family from the US; however, the support stopped in June of 2011 as the economic downturn took a toll. Fighton is a very talented artist. Sadly he is no longer in our program but did benefit from it greatly in the past. Please help Fighton to fulfill his dream as an artist.
School Supplies Drive
Students supported by Munhu face many challenges, including lack of tuition, school uniforms, clothes, and food. An additional challenge that our students face is lack of school supplies and text books. It doesn’t help to have a student in class if they can’t participate.
It is because of this need that Munhu started a school supply drive for our students. We have partnered with Johnson Elementary, Walnut Grove Elementary, and Altrusa DFW in Texas in collecting school supplies. Johnson Elementary has been participating in the school supply drive for the last 3 years. Other schools plan to participate starting in 2013. We have collected supplies such as crayons, exercise books, pens, and pencils.
We have also collected books that have been used to start libraries in rural schools, as shown in the video below. We need help to cover costs for shipping the collected supplies to our schools. Please consider being part of this program by helping us ship these supplies to our students.
Temporary chalk board