MWENEZI - Turf Primary School, which is located in Ward 15 Mwenezi West, now has its first classroom block after 17 years, thanks to an intervention by the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (Unicef).
The satellite school began offering classes in the open back in 2003 at the height of the Land Reform Programme and has constantly registered zero percent pass rate in grade seven exams.
Many pupils had been sitting on the ground under makeshift structures built of wooden poles and dagga with thatched roofs while several others conducted lessons under trees.
TellZim first reported about the dire state of affairs at the school on February 10 this year, much to the embarrassment of provincial education authorities, and to the dismay of children’s rights groups.
The community then mobilised itself and began molding bricks that are being used to construct a single block with two classrooms.
Turf Primary School Teacher-in-Charge (TIC) Benard Chauke confirmed the developments in a phone interview with TellZim.
"Community members mobilised themselves to build the classroom block which is now nearing completion at roof level. This is a milestone for us because we had not expected it. The development shows what can be achieved if ordinary community members work together,” said Chauke.
He also said the school still faced many infrastructural deficits as the block will not be enough to accommodate all pupils.
He said some new pieces of furniture were bought by money availed through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education by Unicef under its School Improvement Grant (Sig) programme.
"We have been the receiving money under the programme for some years and this time we used our share to buy 42 chairs and 43 desks that will be used in the new classroom block,” said Chauke.
Mwenezi Ward 25 Cllr Samuel Kwinika praised the local community for coming together in the name of development, but called for more assistance from those capable of intervening.
"The level of commitment displayed by locals towards this project is awesome. We are also grateful for the funds donated by Unicef,” said Kwinika.
The school has only five teachers for its 385 pupils with shortage of facilities meaning that many classes are combined. Mwenezi has 102 satellite schools that are poorly-equipped and severely understaffed.
The original story that TellZim wrote on Turf primary School can be accessed on;