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    Friday, 22 February 2019

    Health time bomb as standards fall at Mashoko

    Mashoko Schools Board Chairperson Zebed Togarepi.


    BIKITA –
    It was the doyen of education during its hey days.
    Not anymore! Mashoko High School which is about 80km from Nyika in Bikita District is a pale shadow of what it used to be.
     It has joined the league of schools like Victoria High in Masvingo, which instead of moving with the times has gone back many years and the place is no longer habitable for children.
    At Vic High parents complained until their voices became hoarse, petitions have been written until there was nothing to write about anymore. The rot continues!
    The same has allegedly visited Mashoko, a Church of Christ-run school. The situation at the school is deplorable according to sources  but at least unlike at Vic High, the authorities there are not burying their heads in the sand like ostriches.
    Authorities at Mashoko accept criticism and they have said they are going to act.
    Toilets at Mashoko have broken down and there is fear of a cholera  and typhoid outbreak.
    There was an AGM at the school last weekly and parents were greeted by unsightly broken toilets, heaps of fresh human waste covered by  thorns. There were dry taps in the bath rooms, dirty floors and walls. Swarms of flies hovered all over and the stench would knock out any appetite from the most hungry man.
    The similarities between Vic High and Mashoko are endless. Both schools used to be powerhouses in sports, producing some of the finest athletes in the country and in the case of Vic High, it was sports all round. Today an amateurish team can beat Mashoko.
    Mashoko used to produce the best academic results in the province but not anymore. Its results are poorer than day schools and some schools with hot sitting. The once revered school is lost in the wilderness of mediocre performers. This year its position in the A Level ranking was number 65 while its O Level ranking was number 14.
    The situation at Vic High and Mashoko calls for a serious introspection by the Provincial Education Director’s office. The blame for the poor state of any school must lie squarely on the shoulders of the head and the head is appointed by the Ministry.
    Children cannot suffer for the inefficiencies of either the Ministry or the head. All children have a right to a good environment and this is what President Mnangagwa is trying to fulfill by declaring the first Friday of every month a national cleanup day.
    Just like there are field days for farmers to learn from each other, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must also establish similar  days for school authorities so that they can learn from each other’s best practices.
    Hellen MCghie Primary School, Christian High  and Ndarama High are obvious candidates for such field days. One can see that money is being properly spent at these schools. The furniture, the toilets, the classrooms, the laboratories, the gardens and the fowl runs are the best that one can get anywhere in the World.
    The fees obtaining at these schools are not different from those charged at the poor performing schools.
    Mashoko Christian Schools’ board chairperson, Zebed Togarepi admitted that there was a problem at Mashoko. He however, apportioned blame on a splinter group in the church that is fighting for control of the schools.
    “I admit that there is a problem and I have summoned the school head, Tranose Mbwirire so that we can map the way forward together. We have already found a plumber who is going to repair all broken down toilets on fix and supply basis.
    “However the situation is being blown out of proportion by a splinter group that is trying to discredit the head and the school. They are the same people who sent a video of the toilets that has gone viral, but we are working flat out to rectify the problem,” he said.
    When contacted for comment District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) for Bikita, Andrew Masarira said a local Environmental Health Technician (EHT) is going to inspect the school soon.  
    Bikita District Schools Inspector (DSI) James Mahofa could not be reached for comment as his mobile was not reachable.
    One parent who spoke on condition of anonymity said if the current situation is not rectified, he will be left with no choice but to find an alternative school for his children.
    “I have two children here but if the problem persists I will definitely remove my children from this school,” he said.
    Mashoko Old Students Association  led by Taropafadzwa Masunda, is already organising a demonstration against the current administration and Police has been notified.
    “We demand that the responsible authority improve our school. They should not allow this to happen. Leaders must be responsible and accountable; that’s part of development.
    “We are going to demonstrate against them so that they improve the standards,” he said.

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