MARY MOUNT SCHOOL OPENS AFTER FORCED CLOSURE BY THE WAR

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Mary Mount Group foto - Copy

Some of the Mary Mount students pose for a picture in front of their school.

Mary Mount High School reopened its doors in 2016 after forced closure at the height of the liberation struggle in 1978. The school which closed as a primary school reopened as a high school with forms 1and 5 with 65 students. Now the school has forms 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 and the first group of upper 6 students set for examinations in 2017.

Teacher's cottage at Mary Mount High School

The picture above shows houses that are used as Administration and Laboratory blocks at Mary Mount High School while the round huts are used as alternative accommodation by priests in summer.

Mary Mount Primary School was closed at the peak of the liberation war of independence when staff including teachers, nuns and students were forced to join the liberation struggle in Mozambique. Sr. Gregor Dakudzwa LCBL and her community members then are some of those who were force-matched into Mozambique to join the war. The Church authorities saw it fit to close the school for fear of further exposing the lives of children and those working at the mission school.

MaryMount 1 block under construction

Under Construction: The boys hostel being put up at Mary Mount School.

Since then the school has been closed until Chinhoyi Diocese through Fr. Felix Mukaro decided to re-open the institution now as a high school in a bid to support the mission. According to Fr. Mukaro who is now the Development Coordinator for the Diocese, the school started by offering science subjects including, physics, chemistry, biology together with commercial and arts subjects.

Narrating the ordeal of Mary Mount School which lies some 280km from Harare in the North Eastern periphery of Zimbabwe in Rushing District, Fr. Mukaro said: “The school was closed as the staff and students were forced into joining the war of liberation in Mozambique. Even after independence, it was deemed dangerous to open the school as Renamo insurgents from Mozambique known as “Matsanga” kept wreaking havoc in the areas close to the mission station.”

Mary Mount Block

Above is the new boys hostel that is almost complete. 

Financial challenges, according to Fr. Mukaro, further dogged the situation as the mission did not have enough resources to revamp the existing but severely damaged infrastructure to accommodate students and staff.

“However, when the school reopened in 2016 under the leadership of Sr. Venencia Gasho LCBL as Acting Head, it started as a boarding school but accommodating locals from the vicinity as well. The intention of reopening the school was to support the system of the mission including local priests now staying there after the phasing out of white Jesuit missionaries,” Fr. Mukaro said.

The current head of Mary Mount High School is Mr. Farai Mujana supervising a staff compliment of 16 teachers and eight ancillary staff. Two priests reside at the mission including Fr. Armstrong Kaunga who took over as parish Priest from Fr. Mukaro after his assignment to be the Development Coordinator for the Diocese in 2016 and Paul Tigere as assistant priest. The school has so far completed a classroom block with two classrooms and a boys hostel that accommodates plus or minus 80 learners.

Mary Mount A level girls hostel 1 after b

The picture above shows the girls hostel at the school but more accommodation is needed as the school continues to grow.

Before its closure Mary Mount Primary School produced influential citizens with the likes of Augustine Chihuri, the former Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

According to Fr. Mukaro, the new administration of Chinhoyi Diocese is in the process of improving the education system for its people as there are plans to regularise the operation of St. Boniface Mission High School in Hurungwe by developing it into a boarding school. The diocese also has plans to take over Mutondwe High School which is currently under Pfura Rural District Council. On the other hand, the diocese has embarked on a drive to improve living conditions and livelihoods of its priests and religious.

Mary Mount girls

These five girls are part of the A’Level class at Mary Mount.

“The diocese has embarked on improving conditions at parish stations by renovating presbyteries and convents so that religious and priests enjoy their work. Improving water reticulation through drilling of boreholes and introduction of small income generating projects determined by residence themselves is a priority for the diocese, said Fr. Mukaro highlighting the need to revamp Kangaure farm in Rushinga.

Fr. Felix Mukaro, Chinhoyi Diocese Development Coordinator.

Fr. Felix Mukaro, Chinhoyi Diocese Development Coordinator.

Kangaure farm was the first mission establishment in the diocese which provided courses such as home economics and mechanics among others. The mission was closed when Fr. Jerry Piper was murdered during the war. Its infrastructure was then vandalised by the locals and what only survived was the church roof which was removed and safely kept by a family who put it back when the situation stabilised.

“All the while, it has been operating as an outstation of St. Rita Rushinga. The diocese has started by fencing a 36-hectare farm to pave way for some agricultural initiatives to support it in self-reliance,” he said.

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