Tuesday, 23 February 2010

UCZ Mwandi High School

After 3 years of pushing and patiently waiting, the High School opened on Monday for lessons. Last week registration took place and we now have our complement of 43 girls and 41 boys (2 Day Classes) plus a class of ‘externals’ who will attend afternoon lessons. The cost is K170 000 per term about GBP25 and GBP30 for the externals, similar to what is being charged by the other High Schools in the District for Day Tuition.

As I taught my first lesson to Grade 10A on Monday, History –“ Bantu Migrations before 1800”, I was thinking a more appropriate local history lesson might have been “Mwandi Children’s High School Peregrinations before 2010”!

If children were fortunate enough to have parents who could afford it or could find sponsors for a variety of reasons, the three main options were 70 km away to the west at Sesheke, 120km in the bush to the north at the RC Mission at Sichile or Livingstone 140km to the east. Many of the better-off Civil Servants based at Mwandi sent their children to Mission Boarding schools in Southern Province, Lusaka or even further afield as there were few places and schools available in Western Province.

Some of the other educational statistics for this year are encouraging. For the first time in many years, the Western Province Grade 9 Examination results were higher than the National Average: 54.3% to 51.96%. All girl pupils who passed were also offered places in Grade 10. On the other hand in 2009 there were only 22 High Schools to serve a population of over 800 000. The termly grant allocated by the Province to each High School was also below average in comparison with other Provinces.

We offer at present these subjects: English, RE, Geography, History, Silozi, Mathematics, Biology, Science, Civics. We are at present using 2 of the classrooms, the third is still being used as a store by the builders of the second classroom block and we are using the presently-unused second laboratory as an administration building.

The community last weekend helped to dig two emergency latrines while the more permanent structures are being built. The pit for the first double one has been dug and the bricks are now being moulded. We are unable to make use of the borehole well that has been sunk as the parts are not available in Zambia and have to be imported from India! The teachers have also approached the local MP to see if the school could qualify for help as part of the rural electrification scheme. Electricity and running water would make our lives and those of the pupils and builders so much better and easier.

We have also spent time on other matters as important in their own ways as the infrastructure. A Code of Conduct for the pupils has been drafted and approved, the uniform –maroon shirts and blouses and black skirts or trousers for the day pupils and green blouses and shirts for the externals have been chosen.

Time was also taken to design a badge and motto. The blazon is gyronny argent and gules: in other words, a skewed to the right red maltese cross on a white background in an African shield. Red and white are the Lozi colours but also liturgically they stand for the Holy Spirit and the redemptive work of the Church. The arms of the cross are also like rays of light, the light and life we receive from Christ.

Superimposed on this is the Ichthus symbol, appropriate as both a symbol for Christianity and Mwandi. Mwandi means the fishing place and ICHTHUS the Greek acrostic is also a good reminder of who Jesus is and what he did for us. Underneath is the Motto: Mamonyi Aman’ata, Liseli Lililin’wi (Many lamps, one light)

A High School should disseminate light. God’s revelation is often portrayed as light or illumination. Each individual lamp contributes to the one light as witnesses to that light. It also points to the individual pupils with their individual and their collective identity as part of the school. Finally the motto also speaks of the many different parts of the Body that have contributed to the building of this school to God’s glory.

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