By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
The Claretian Missionaries have thrown their weight behind the growth of education in Zimbabwe through building a state-of-the-art school in Zhomba Mission in Gokwe North. This initiative to provide basic education is in tandem with the Catholic Church’s drive to avail education to all. Thus, the Claretian Missionaries have come forth with the idea to complement the Diocese of Gokwe’s efforts in building more schools for the poor.
The School which is situated in Chiutsi village under chief Nenyunga is named after St. Antony Mary Claret, the founding father of the Claretian Missionaries, hence the name “St. Claret Primary School.” According to the parish priest of Zhomba Mission, Fr. Emmanuel Ogalla, St. Claret Primary was born out of the quest by the local community to have a school in the area that they approached the Diocese to consider their plight. This was also prompted by the fact that children in the area used to walk long distances to the nearby school.
“The school was born from a petition that long ago the local community submitted to the Diocese of Gokwe. It is in this respect that the Diocese of Gokwe entrusted the development of the school to the Claretian missionaries who started construction with the help of such organisations as PROCLADE, SOLIDARIDARSE and MANOS UNIDAS in 2016,” said Fr. Ogalla
The Claretian Missionaries are proud to be contributing to the education of children in the country as part of their charism. St. Clare Primary opened its doors in January 2017 bringing the total number of schools in Gokwe Diocese to 24. The school started with a minimal number of 20 learners for both ECD and Grade 1 and three teachers.
Fr. Ogalla stated: “The Claretian opted for education as part of our evangelising charism in the church and for the world. Because it is a wonderful way to join an option for development and evangelization, the school is always a platform for holistic development and for inculcating values of the Gospel in Children.”
Today the school has more than 360 pupils and goes up to Grade 3, seven teachers, 2 general hands and one Catholic resource person in charge of taking care of Catholic ethos at the school. Fr. Ogalla pointed out that the school was understaffed with few teachers considering the growing number of children and their different educational needs.
He acknowledged the pivotal role that parents continue to play in the development of the school. This, he said, testifies to the fact that the school was born out of their initiative and their commitment and support was witnessed through their dedication to pay school fees up to 80%. The parents are also fundraising towards the purchase of a mini bus for the school.
“The commitment and involvement of parents is excellent. This is because the school was born out of their initiative. Every Thursday the parents take turns to contribute through manual work at the school. To show the parents’ commitment and support fees are paid up to 80% while they are also fundraising towards purchasing a mini bus for the school,” Fr. Ogalla said.
The thrust of the school from the beginning has been to foster the Catholic and Claretian identity, to provide inclusive education and pedagogical innovation according to their motto which speaks to promote education from and with the heart.