…Alumni key in upholding schools development
FROM being a highly rated school in the 1990’s and prior because of its deep rooted cultural values and standards, Mutare Boys’ High has been falling to pieces, but its alumni said it is time they step up to help the authorities.
Singing the school song word for word as if they had just left the school in recent times, alumni from all walks of life that attended the Mutare Boys’ High Old Boys Association annual general meeting held at Prince Edward in Harare last Friday, showed how much dedicated they were to upend the battered image of the school and bring back the school to its former glory.
Most of the alumni present who were from the 1980s and 1990s classes had inspiring tales to share about the good old days and how the school moulded them to become who they are today. The association christened the ‘Men of Valour’ (MOV) was started in 2014 and has been slowly increasing its membership currently with a little over 160 alumni dotted all-over the country and some in the diaspora.
The association which has already embarked on several fundraising campaigns for a number of projects at the school since 2014 last Friday vowed to do more in pursuit of its agenda to restore and preserve a lost culture that should forever be cherished and passed on at the school from generation to generation.
The MOV Trustee operates under a Trust Deed which was filed in July 2014 and registered on 8 August 2014 after review under the registration code MA958/14. The deed was shared with all member old boys then, as well as the school and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
Opening the meeting, the chairman of the Trustee, Tapiwanashe Kujinga, said the discussion of starting the association began in 2013 after a clip of the dilapidated state of the school buildings and hostels was posted on YouTube by a parent who is also an alumni.
He said after that eye-opener the main drivers of the agenda among the alumni were Lloyd Kodzanai based in Mutare and Julius Magodo in the United States of America.
“Creation of an old boys’ association was mooted as a solution to arresting the deteriorating standards at the school. A number of other old boys were thereafter roped in to become trustees, namely Richard Chiwandire, Nawalkumar Jeram, Pension Mandimutsira and David Marange. I and Wilson Chivaura were later co-opted as Trustees and we are all serving as the incumbent Trustees,” he said.
Kujinga highlighted that the membership was currrently low and MOV should take a leaf from the Prince Edward School Old Boys Association which has over 1000 members contributing towards several projects at the school.
Special mention of individuals that were focal in the formation of MOV was made, the likes of Owen Chidavaenzi based in the United Kingdom that initiated the idea of starting a WhatsApp group, Tendai Munyebvu in France who started the skip lunch concept to fundraise money for the school and another alumni who insists on being ‘anonymous’ that has been depositing 10 Euros almost every week since the fundraising campaigns began.
A special mention was given to Magodo as the driving force of MOV that has not only been contributing immensely to morally motivate members but financially as well as he has so far contributed generously towards several projects and was the biggest sponsor towards all the logistics for the AGM, including paying for allowances for the coordinator of the AGM Shamiso Mungofa.
“It is good to see that some of us have not changed in our principles. When I was in Upper Six, Julius (Magodo) was in Lower Six and he hasn’t changed. He has always been passionate and he is the driving force behind the scenes of this initiative. He was also a rugby player and star athlete and a break dancer as well,” said the chairman, adding a bit of humour in his aside.
All the alumni present were agreeable that the time-honoured culture at Boys’ High had been lost but all hope was not yet lost to restore it. It was agreed that cultural restoration mentorship would be one of the main programmes that the association would spearheaded to bring back integrity to the school.
“Back in the days the culture at Boys’ High shaped us and helped us develop internal discipline. It did not matter if you came from the ghetto, when you stepped at the school it was a different world and up-to-date I value that. I see that with the PE (Prince Edward) boys. When they pass you as an elder they greet you good-morning or good-afternoon. I went to Boys High and some youngsters literally run into you without apologising. I am now ashamed to be associated with my former school but we can upend that as a team,” said one of the alumni during the heated debate on deterioration of standards at the school.
Kodzani presenting the financial report on behalf of the treasurer Chiwandire who could not make it for the meeting said all their efforts undertaken so far were a result of great sacrifices and love for the school.
MBHS school head Tendayi Gwashu said the school was now his fifth school to head having joined it in 2015 following the untimely death of his predecessor Mathew Tondoya. He said he was happy that he had come to a school that had passionate alumni as he had tried before to engage alumni at Nyamauru and Dangamvura High where he headed previously, but the initiative fell on deaf ears.
Gwashu said the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools had made it difficult to instil traditional cultural values in students, but as a school they were trying to come up with creative ways of reorienting the students to the old ways.
He however admitted not to be knowledgeable of many of the age-old traditions along with the bulk of his relatively new staff, which has over the years led to the downfall of many traditions at the school.
Going forward the school head said his door was open for a cordial working relationship with MOV as they need all the help they can get to come up with a winning formula to bring back the school to its former glory.
Gwashu said projects earmarked for 2018 were upgrade of the ICT library, repair of the chapel which is currently not functional, repainting of the bus garage, putting up a new modern main gateway, building a new tuck-shop to replace the old burned down one and purchasing of computers for the library to mention just a few.
Kujinga said the alumni would not interfere with the role of the School Development Committee but work in collaboration with it as an interested party that wants to ensure development of the school.
“A number of career guidance sessions have been held at the school by Old Boys’ which proved to be quite helpful for the students. As Trustees we have also held a number of meetings and consultations with the school administration and SDA to explore collaboration. This led to us carrying out an assessment of the school infrastructure to identify areas of priority. And some we have already assisted like the painting of the school,” said Kujinga
The major responsibilities earmarked by MOV will be towards establishing a scholarship fund for academically bright and needy students as well as those talented in extracurricular activities such as sporting, the arts and technical areas.
It will also identify areas that critically require investment and refurbishment at the school, including school infrastructure, grounds, sporting facilities, equipment and furniture, and to provide financial assistance to repair and refurbish. And last but not least to provide mentorship support to the students to enable them to realise and reach their capacity and restore the old cultural values at the school.
All Mutare Boys’ High alumni we urged to come together to form one association and work collectively towards raising funds for the school and restoring the lost long-standing culture that used to be the marvel of the school.