Our new ‘experimental business laboratory’ opened for business at the start of Term Two – to great excitement.
Second-hand shipping containers offer both security and durability, but they are like gold-dust in landlocked countries. We’ve been looking for one for years; and last December, Marvin, one of supporters in the UK, finally located one on a hillside in Zimbabwe and his logistics company transported it to Mukwashi this March.
Since then, staff and learners have been sanding, rust-proofing, painting and converting it into a small ‘community shop’. It will be run and managed by secondary learners as part of their business studies, commerce & accounts lessons. It’s a chance for them to experiment, make mistakes and gain ‘hands-on’ skills and experience in developing a small business.
At the end of last term, just before Easter, the first ‘inter-school’ athletics tournament took place since 2019. Our team of athletes travelled by school bus and then camped for three days to take part.
Nine schools participated, and we finished third. As all the other schools have twice our number of learners, we were very pleased with the result.
Four of our learners won their individual events: Rabecca Chirwa, under 13 girls, 100 metres; Samuel Sensenta, under 15 boys, 100 metres; Michael Musonda, under 17 boys, 100 metres; and Evans Chuma, under 17 boys, javelin. Rabecca and Samuel have now been selected to represent Chilanga district in the provincial championships.
At the same time, Tamika Simpamba, our talented girls footballer, won the district under 17 girls chess championship – so a huge ‘well done’ to her too.
Our five district ‘champions’ are in the photo above with Mr Hara our PE teacher.
Thanks to the generosity of overseas friends, we’ve finally been able to buy and install the four solar panels, inverter and battery we’ve needed to provide the school office with power.
This is a considerable step forward, and ensures the school’s administration can now function efficiently at all times.
Our friends kindly donated enough ‘solar’ funds for us also to provide each of our seven staff houses with solar lighting and a solar phone charger. For the nine teachers who live in them, this means no more preparing lessons by candlelight and oil lamp. However, unfortunately, we also have six teachers and seven auxiliary staff who live off-site in rented block- or mud-houses, and they will have to live with dark houses for longer.
The new school year is now underway, and two new members of staff have joined us.
Mr Innocent Phiri is our second transport & maintenance officer, and Ms Sikazinga Maluma is our new teacher of Business Studies, Commerce, Accounts and Computer Studies. She will also be developing the school shop as part of the Business curriculum.
Staff and learners were not the only new arrivals: we also received 900 new secondary textbooks from Oxford University Press in South Africa – just in time for the start of the new year.
These mean that, finally, no secondary learner will have to share a textbook in any subject. Thank you to our friends overseas who bought these for the school.
We also received 86 new baby fruit trees to plant in our developing orchard. It will be another five years before these start bearing fruit, but – again, we thank the many friends who bought the school ‘ a tree’ for Christmas.
We’re proud of our 34 learners who sat the national Grade 7 examinations in November.
Their results were far better than at other schools around Zambia. 85% of our learners achieved one of the top two divisions, whereas only 41% managed this at all other schools; only 3% of our learners achieved the lowest division – far fewer than the 37% in all other schools.
We’re even more pleased with the 28 learners who sat the national Grade 9 exams.
Learners must pass these to proceed to Upper Secondary, and the overall Grade 9 ‘School Certificate’ is generally considered to be a ‘passport’ to decent employment. 82% of our candidates have been awarded a ‘certificate’ so can move on to Grade 10, while only 55% across all other schools passed and can proceed.
And we are delighted with the 12 learners who took the national Grade 12 exams. This is similar to the IB, and learners must gain an overall G12 ‘National Certificate’ to proceed to further education.
Gratifyingly, 83% of our candidates have been awarded a ‘certificate’ – compared to only 69% across all other schools in Zambia.
The national average includes all the expensive private schools, boarding schools, stem schools and international schools which only accept children who have gained the highest marks at Grade 7 or Grade 9. In contrast, at Mukwashi, we accept all children, whatever their ability or results, and many of our learners started school late or missed a few years.
Eight of our Grade 9 candidates have only been able to attend school because they’ve had a free place funded by our friends and supporters: seven of them passed and can move up. Their achievement captures the life-changing value of the monthly gifts which make our free places possible.
37 of our 41 Grade 6 learners have just completed the first of their three ‘school-based assessment’ projects for their Expressive Arts G7 national examination next year.
Our new Expressive Arts teacher, Ms Nelia Nkhoma, liaised with all the G6 parents to support their children in designing and making a doormat for their homes. This involved them all learning (and mastering) the skills of weaving, needlework and design.
Yesterday, the learners presented their completed mats to the whole school. Once their doormats have been formally assessed and marked next year, the learners will take them back to their homes to be used.
Thanks to the generosity of local parents & overseas friends, we are now using the first bus reconditioned for us by the staff of Tradesgates Motors (a local community garage).
We’ve finally said good-bye to our battered old bus, which is now being dismantled for spare parts, and all our children are revelling in using a vehicle which doesn’t break down every couple of days.
We’ve still another £1,200 / $1,500 to raise to pay for the second bus we need, but we are confident that, come the new year, there will be two Mukwashi buses trundling up and down the Mumbwa Road several times a day.
Last Friday, we held a graduation celebration for our Grade 12 learners and their parents as they reached the end of the time at Mukwashi Trust School.
Many of them have been learning at Mukwashi for over ten years, and those who started in the Early Years have been here fifteen years: it’s time for them to take the next big step forward into work or further education.
Each learner was presented with a ‘certificate of completion‘ which will be their passport to employment, and some also received a ‘statement of excellence‘. All will sit their national Grade 12 examinations later this month, and those who do well will be able to move on to university – if they can find a sponsor.
Here are our Grade 12 graduates with their teachers.
And with their proud parents, who also joined us for a celebration meal.
The final term of this year is now underway – with its focus on the national exams.
During the holiday, we said some sad ‘good-byes’ to three teachers. Ms Angela Nkonge, Ms Monica Mbosha & Mr Nice Sichinga have all moved on to government schools in other provinces – we wish them well in their new positions.
We have appointed their replacements, and welcome Ms Nelia Nkhoma, Ms Miniva Nshingwa & Mr Lameck Mvula to the Mukwashi family.
Lameck is responsible for teaching Agricultural Science to all grades in the secondary section, and Nelia & Miniva have joined our team of primary teachers.