First Eco School Commissioned at St. Mary’s Primary in Hwange

By Leonard Ncube

Bishop Albert Serrano and Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Paul Mavima celebrate the commissioning of the first Eco-School.
Bishop Albert Serrano and Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Paul Mavima celebrate the commissioning of the first Eco-School.

WHILE St Mary’s Mission is regarded as the mother of Hwange Diocese,
St Mary’s Primary School also comes top as the great door for education in the Diocese.

Probably, a brief history of the school would show the determination by the institution regarded as the pioneer of education in Hwange. The school was opened in 1935 after the establishment of St Mary’s Mission. At the end of 1933, missionary work was underway around Hwange amid challenges of rough terrain and harsh conditions which saw many priests and nuns succumbing.

After the construction of St Aegedium Mission which housed a school at its premises in Makwa, one of the modern day strong Catholic community areas, there came Fr. Joseph Ebert who joined the Makwa community in the late 1934 and his work was instrumental in the establishment of St. Mary’s Mission.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima commissions the first Eco-School at St. Mary's Primary in Hwange Diocese.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima commissions the first Eco-School at St. Mary’s Primary in Hwange Diocese while Philip Baker and Phillip Makutsa look on.

Conditions at Makwa made Fr. Joseph to shift focus to Lukosi area and it was in 1935 that St. Mary’s School was opened as a new school. That was the ideal place for the transfer of the mission too. St Mary’s Primary School in Lukosi became one of the pioneer schools in Hwange and has remained a vital cog in the church’s education sector in Hwange Diocese with a number of great names through its doors.

From St. Mary’s, new schools Lambo, Luseche, Nengasha, Milonga, Kanywambizi and Mbizha were opened. One cannot miss the school, mission and clinic located on a hill top facing Lukosi River about 15km outside Hwange town.

Fast forward to 2018, St. Mary’s Primary has set its bar high to become the mother of education not only in the diocese but in the whole of Zimbabwe, with the commissioning of the first ever Eco School in the country. It was given state-of-the-art Information Communication Technologies equipment to improve learning and teaching.

A Canadian organization Learning for Humanity came up with the idea in partnership with World Vision Canada to develop the concept in Zimbabwe. After assessing schools, they settled for St. Mary’s because the school already had a computer lab and was doing something in terms of ICT based teaching. The organization approached the church and permission was granted upon which a team comprising the headmistress and others was sent to Zambia on a fact finding mission.

World Vision Canada and Learning for Humanity established the facility early this year and teachers have already been trained to be trainers of other teachers countrywide once the concept spreads as St. Mary’s is set to become a champion school for Zimbabwe and Southern African region from where other schools will come to learn how to go about digitization of learning.

Crowds gather to witness the commission of the Eco-School in at St. Mary's Primary in Hwange.
Part of the crowd that gathered to witness the commissioning of the Eco-School at St. Mary’s Primary in Hwange.

Eco School is a total e-learning solution offering digital learning to teachers and pupils from Early Childhood Development to Form Four. It is available on cloud service called e-cloud and can be accessed and it is even possible without internet connectivity through a localized network system. As part of the project, St. Mary’s received 40 computers, nineteen 55-inch TV screens, 19 tablets and projectors as the school has moved 100 percent towards digitilised learning.

Teaching is now done with the aid of digital material as the teacher uses a tablet to beam lessons on a large screen. Pupils now have access to reading material for research on computers.

Speaking at the commissioning which was attended by Bishop Albert Serano and Catholic School secretary for education in the diocese Fr. Jimu Muleya among others, World Vision Canada Programme Portfolio Manager Phillip Makutsa thanked the church for opening its doors for partnership.

“Eco School aims to help children prosper in life as our vision is on fullness of life. We are excited about the partnership with the Diocese of Hwange and the school and hope to work well going forwards,” he said.

Learning for Humanity chief executive Philip Baker said more things are coming the way of St. Mary’s Primary, including continuous retraining of teachers. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima said the school will be the country’s model centre for learning as it answers to the government’s need to transform education through technology. Bishop Serrano also thanked the donors for the project and urged the community to make use of the school.

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