Somewhere along the dusty road that threads through rural Zvishavane is an old Primary School. The school is just 20 metres from the road, but what strikes most are the old buildings, classrooms and teachers’ quarters. This is Matenda School. Built in 1927, the school was once sited at Danger, near Chionekano range of mountains through which Lundi River passes.
Today is my fourth visit to this school, having first arrived there for the first time on 6 July 2007. A friend in New Zealand had tasked me to establish a School Library. How I have grown to love this school. Despite some poor infrastructure, the previous visits and welcoming atmosphere has motivated me to return to this school. True, rural schools are being neglected, and the poor parents cannot raise required resources to upgrade and maintain the structures. What has inspired me though is the level of togetherness, discipline at the school, commitment of the head and his staff and the hard work shown by the pupils. As a Librarian who loves voluntary work and with a deep commitment to support and foster the development of School Libraries out there in remote rural areas, I arrived with a box full of children’s books.
Talking of books, in Zimbabwe today, most rural schools hardly have books for reading, neither do they have a library to support the teaching and learning process. The Rural Library Development Programme has made great strides, but, it would be asking too much for them to cover the entire country. With poor government funding, rural schools find themselves struggling to meet literacy levels acceptable to world standards. The current socio-economic environment has negatively impacted on book provision in schools. Without books children cannot read, this is not a good foundation for their education. However my arrival was received with joy.
The following morning I looked forward with excitement for the Book Presentation occasion, after I had made a special arrangement with the School Head. It is the desire of every parent to see their children pull through primary, secondary, tertiary education and finally secure a rewarding career. I expected parents to throng the school, however the weather turned out to our disadvantage as it was overcast and windy.
The Deputy Head, his staff and selected pupils from all grades gathered in the grade seven classroom to witness the presentation of Book Donations. Village elders were invited and it turned out to be a memorable occasion as pupils recited poems in appreciation of the Book Donation. To the delight of all gathered, some pupils took turns to read a few chapters as others listened. I took the opportunity to capture the event with photos. What struck me is the untapped talent among some of the poor rural children.
It is through books that true relationships are built. The power of the printed word brings worlds apart together. Matenda School has potential to produce talented pupils who will one day study in overseas universities. Together let us support this school. With a small library they are building, a little help will go a long way towards touching the heart and soul of the poor rural child whose life will be enriched by a well- resourced libra