Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited (Zimpapers) has come to the rescue of over 1 000 learners at Chikukwa Primary School in Chimanimani who were displaced by Cyclone Idai last year, after it undertook to build a classroom block that will accommodate about 100 learners.
The school was one of the worst affected by the disaster which killed hundreds of people and destroyed homes, schools, bridges, roads and fields.
Two classroom blocks and an administration block were extensively damaged by the cyclone and were condemned by officials from the ministries of Primary and Secondary Education, Health and Child Care and Local Government and Public Works.
Zimpapers board chairman Mr Tommy Sithole (right) and board members Mrs Rejoice Nharaunda-Makawa and Mr Tatenda Chiweshe assess a classroom block being built by the company at Chikukwa Primary School in Chimanimani yesterday
Due to limited resources, the school has not been able to build new classrooms.
Three classes are being housed in a tent pitched in a football field, while seven others are housed in a wooden makeshift classroom block.
Two others conduct their lessons in a United Baptist Church building within the school premises.
Some classes are however, still using the condemned classrooms.
The intervention by Zimpapers will see two classes with at least 50 pupils each, being relocated to the new block.
Speaking during a tour by Zimpapers board members and senior executives yesterday, school representative Mr Blessing Mandozana expressed appreciation to the company for restoring hope for the learners.
“When schools opened this year, we had no choice, but to use some of the condemned classrooms because we have a serious shortage,” he said.
“But in the last two weeks, it has been raining and this has raised fears among parents and authorities.
“Some parents did not send their children to school for two days last week because they were afraid that the walls and roofs would collapse.”
Zimpapers chairman Mr Tommy Sithole donated a box of novels for the school’s library to encourage a culture of reading.
He said although efforts by the company would not address all the challenges, it was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with the institution and the community.
“We have heard your concerns and will see how we can assist,” said Mr Sithole.
Zimpapers corporate services and public relations manager Ms Beatrice Tonhodzayi said work on the block started last year and would be complete soon.
“As a company that works with many communities in the country, we always want to be able to assist wherever there is need,” she said.
“What affects the communities also affects us, so we will continue to work towards restoring the damage caused by the cyclone.”
Ms Tonhodzayi said the company adopted 10 learners.
The company also donated exercise books and sanitary wear for girls at the school.
Parents said the classroom block was the beginning of great things for the school.
“Our children stayed at home for a long time after the cyclone, but when they came back, they had nowhere to learn since the classrooms had been destroyed,” said Mrs Tsitsi Nemakonde.
“We thank Zimpapers for building a block which we believe will help our children concentrate more in class and improve the pass rate.”
Another parent, Mrs Margaret Maronde, said they were concerned that their children were learning in the condemned classrooms.
“We are hopeful that since Zimpapers has come in with this block, and another one built by parents, we will eventually move all learners from the dangerous classrooms,” she said.