BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
MAZVIMBA Primary School in Chirumanzu district ward 21 is not an ordinary rural school.
The learning institution boasts of tapped water drawn from a submersible borehole pump that has seen students embarking on a gardening project as well as accessing clean drinking water.
For years, teachers could hardly stay long at the school because of water shortages.
But thanks to the intervention of a local non-governmental organisation Hand in Hand Zimbabwe which funded the drilling of a solar powered borehole that supplies water to two 5 000 litres Jojo tanks before the precious liquid is distributed to 11 water taps, the school now has easy access to clean water and a vibrant food and nutritional garden.
“The biggest challenge we had at this school was water and teachers would travel for more than a kilometre to fetch water,” a school development committee official said last week at the handover of the projects by the non-governmental organisation.
“The water project did not only benefit the school but the whole community as we have villagers who were allocated space in the school garden.
“The whole community in ward 21 also fetches water from five taps at the school.”
Hand in Hand did not stop there.
The NGO also assisted the school in the construction of an early childhood development toilet block with toilet seats and showers with the latter facility ensuring that the young learners, who mess themselves are always kept clean at all times.
The NGO also helped rehabilitate another block of toilets for higher grades learners and the ablution facilities have sections that accommodate pupils with disabilities.
The non-profit organisation has also done similar projects at Mutenderende Secondary School in Chirumanzu’s ward seven.
A total of eight schools in the district have benefitted from similar projects under Hand in Hand’s Strength in Children; School Training for Resilience in Emergencies through Nutrition and Good Health project.
Chirumanzu district schools inspector, Bornface Chimbiya said the school feeding programme at Mazvimba Primary School was sustainable as the school can now get vegetables from the garden project.
“But let me emphasise that all the water from these taps should not only be used for drinking purposes but more importantly increase production in the garden project,” Chimbiya said.
Similar projects, ablution reconstruction and a garden project have been undertaken at schools in Shurugwi district with some of the beneficiaries including St Francis Nhema and Vungwi primary schools.
Provincial deputy education director primary, secondary and non-formal education, Janet Shoko who officiated at the handover of the projects said Hand in Hand was complementing government efforts to realise its National Development Strategy 1 goals.
“These garden projects will complement the government’s school feeding programme.
“When children know they will get food at school they are motivated to come to school and absenteeism is reduced and this will also push for an increase in the pass rate,” said Shoko, who was standing in for provincial education director Jameson Machimbira.
“The ablution facilities assisted by Hand in Hand will also complement government’s NDS for infrastructural development. As a ministry we are saying access and quality are key in the education of our children,” Shoko said.
“If pupils fail to get ablution facilities we have compromised access and I’d children don’t get access we will not achieve quality.”
She added:” Let me hasten to say as a ministry we are delighted by ablution facilities that cater for children with disabilities.
“There might be such children confined to homes and not attending school because of lack of user-friendly facilities.”
Hand in Hand chief executive Felix Tete said his organisation was committed to supporting government programmes through targeting children in schools by such interventions as food and nutrition, health, water and sanitation among others.
“Even if the child is to leave school they should sustain their lives from skills they get from such interventions,” Tete said.
The Strength in Children project implemented in Shurugwi and Chirumanzu districts is a two year project targeting at least 5280 school children and its goal is to improve children’s wellbeing and resilience during food and health emergencies.