Business as usual at Zimbabwean school
A DUNOON school that mainly serves the Zimbabwean community will stay open this year despite speculation there would be a mass exodus to Zimbabwe after the ousting of former president Robert Mugabe.
The Herentals Academy, which was started in 2015, has about 220 pupils, 95% of them Zimbabweans. The school caters for Grade R to Grade 11.
Principal Oliver Chikarara said it began as a community initiative.
“As most kids from all southern African countries have difficulties in getting places in formal schools, due to various reasons, we decided to pull our resources together, find a place, find teachers, find books and start a community school.”
He said this year would be business as usual for the school as change wouldn’t happen in Zimbabwe overnight.
“Going back to Zimbabwe is not an option now because the same problems which drove us in numbers to South Africa are still there, no matter if the president has changed. It takes years before the economy is fixed to absorb us back.
“We can’t tell how many pupils are to come but so far we have received above 20 new kids,” Chikarara said.
The school used the Zimbabwean syllabus, he said.
“The school differs from other schools in many ways. First, it is a community school. Second, we teach the Zimbabwean syllabus due to the fact that these Zimbabwean kids will go back and write their final examinations in Zimbabwe and proceed to Grade 12 there.
“Also, we are preparing them for re-integration when they finally go back home.
“Another problem faced by foreign students is the teaching language in formal schools. Most don’t understand, speak or read the language, so they end up underperforming.”
He said they had plans for the school.
“Our hope is to finish the regularisation of our community school, find a better place to operate from and develop it to offer education to all deserving kids, irrespective of nationality,” Chikarara said.
By the time of going to print, Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for education MEC Debbie Schäfer, had not confirmed whether the Herentals Academy was registered as a school with the Western Cape Education Department.
Herentals Academy pupils wash their hands.
Michel Chinyemba during the lunch break at Herentals Academy.