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» » » Shirley Makausi and the beauty of retirement

…veteran educationist, Ndarama High School head savours moments of newfound rest
Star Matsongoni
Retiring from work could be a wonderful and fulfilling experience especially for those that do so voluntarily and after having left behind a positive legacy worthy emulating.
This is the story of former Ndarama Government High head Shirley Makausi who now walks with her head held high in the full knowledge that she has moved on to yet another stage of her life having led what used to just be ‘another public school’ to a great institution that it is today.
Ndarama High School is one school which is living in the beauty of its dreams after the former head presided over its rapid transformation into the best performing government high school in Masvingo province and even beyond.
Makausi, who now lives a quiet life away from the public glare, opened up in an interview with TellZim News that she was satisfied by the progress that she helped cement at the school.
“It has been a hard journey but one which I do not regret, one which helped me grow my knowledge and competencies. I am glad that I have disembarked not from a sinking ship but from a one which is intact and destined for greater destinations,” said Makausi.
She said she was particularly pleased with the quality of the school’s overall performance in terms of academic development, performance in the sports field as well as improvement of infrastructure and learning conditions.
“The school’s academic competency remains at its highest at both 'O' and 'A' levels. Since 2004, ‘A’ level classes have been growing from 75 percent towards the 100 percent pass rate mark. In the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, we had 100 percent at ‘A’ level. Our ‘O’ level pass rates have been growing rapidly and beginning in 2017, we attained 100 percent.
 "I am glad that that I helped the school to excel not only academically, but in the whole curriculum package we give to the learner; in sports, arts and culture," said Makausi.
Makausi reframed the school’s objectives, vision and the rules and made sure that they were followed.
“I knew what I wanted and I wanted Ndarama to be one of the most recognized schools so I had to change the school’s vision, objectives and rules.
“It wasn’t easy as I faced resistance, and had to charge some teachers for them to see how serious I was and for them to accept the change. After I had shared my vision and made sure that my staff understood and embraced it, things started to flow and they were happy as they started to see light at the end of the tunnel,” said Makausi.
She credits her Catholic faith for keeping her going even in the most challenging of all circumstances, saying God had been her guide throughout.
“My day started at 5 am when I would attend the 5-6 morning mass and by 6:30, I would be at school by the gate. How you start your day is also important because I see the hand of the Lord in everything I have done,” said Makausi.
The experience she gained at other schools before she moved to Ndarama High was also invaluable in her efforts to transform the government school.
Makausi served as deputy head at Victoria High School and as school head at Chirichoga Secondary.
“The experience I gained at the other schools helped me to shape up. I would like to particularly acknowledge the experience I gained under the then St Anthony’s Musiso High School head Mr. Nengeze who taught his staff true love for work and how to implement change.
“I strongly believe in excellence which I learnt at Victoria High School. This is how I managed to help improve Ndarama as a school. I was able to help provide a conducive working and learning environment; even our grounds are perfect,” said Makausi.
In terms of infrastructure at Ndarama High School Makausi made a huge difference with new classroom blocks being built and existing ones being improved. The ‘A’ level science laboratory block has now been completed.
The school is also engaged in agricultural projects such as the production of eggs and cabbages that are supplied to some boarding schools.
The mother of three and grandmother of four says she is looking forward to becoming a consultant, offering advice to others as she is no longer interested in being a fulltime employee.
Makausi went to Asher Girls’ Secondary School in Bulawayo and St David’s Bonda in Mutare.
She graduated from the then University of Rhodesia with an Honors Degree in Shona and Theology in 1975. She then went and taught at Duwere High School for a year before going back to school after which she graduated with a Certificate in Education.
Before becoming a school head at Ndarama, Makausi worked in the education sector at different schools including St Anthony’s Musiso from 1980-1983 and Masvingo Christian College from 1983-1994.
In early May 1994, she was promoted to Ndarama Secondary School deputy head and she served in that capacity until 1995. She was then requested to go to Victoria High where she served as deputy head from 1995-1997. She served as school head at Chirichoga High from September 1997- February 2004.
Her journey at Ndarama High started in 2004 and the fruits of the journey are testified by the visible imprint she has made at the school.
Makausi believes that it all starts by being a good teacher, knowing what you want and your responsibilities.
At Ndarama, she won a lot of awards among them the Secretary’s Merit Award twice (2013 and 2018), Best School Head and Most Outstanding School Award.
“We once had a challenge when other school heads complained that Ndarama should be rated under boarding schools to make the ratings fairer, but then we were not a boarding school and Ndarama remains a day school to this day,” said Makausi.
“If there was a time which brought the school together, it was the time of receiving our ‘O’ and ‘A’ level examination results. We would sing and dance in celebration. I will always cherish those moments. I am also proud that we constructed a good ‘A’ level laboratory block,” said Makausi
Makausi said she never had any challenges being a female school head.
“I never had problems as a female head as all my staff respected me and I had an imposing motherly figure to them. I respect girls’ high schools very much as they teach confidence, being courageous. “I believe in saying my mind out as that is the only way to make people understand you,” said Makausi.

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