Busi­ness as usual at Zim­bab­wean school

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA PETERSEN

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.

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