Report by Brilliant Pongo
BULAWAYO – Once, a “whites-only” school before independence, it was regarded as one of the top primary schools in the areas surrounding Firstar and Woodville which are small scale plots/farms.
It is located in the environs of some of Bulawayo’s biggest business factories and communities, Natbrew (Chibuku), Clay Products (Ltd), McDonald bricks and Cement side (PPC Zimbabwe) along the Bulawayo-Harare road, perhaps more famous is the Support Unit ZR Police (Fairbridge).
At the centre of all these industrial factories and communities is Fairbridge Primary School, a school I went to for my first and second grade back in 1983.
The school was one of the many schools that the government needed to only maintain infrastructure as it had been well equipped with great infrastructure before independence, in buildings and learning materials. However the school has lost its sparkle and rating after years of under-funding.
Like most government schools in the country, it lacks everything from textbooks to toilet paper; the infrastructure at the school is in a state of total dilapidation.
The school had a music hall which has since burned down, Squash-courts that have now but collapsed, and a large swimming pool which is now in a state of complete decrepitude, it has trees growing in side it.
Poor infrastructure provision in post-2000 Zimbabwe is a strong reminder of the neglect of the last decade. Since 2000, Zimbabwe has had to confront numerous and complex challenges that have been due to the country’s social and political instability.
While our politicians fight to keep their jobs as MPs and Ministers, they have taken their eyes of the ball, forgetting to fight and speak up for those who they represent. Many poor children are still attending school under trees or in the open air.
The education budget allocation has been shrinking for a long time and as a result much of the school infrastructure in the forgotten schools like Fairbridge Primary School has been left to crumble.
The nation’s education system – once the pride of Zimbabwe – is literally falling apart. This is best summed up by the sad state of affairs at the once sparkly Fairbridge Primary School. This is evidence that the country’s education system is now facing a crisis –one of the most serious in its history.
A significant number of schools are now unsafe and structurally unsound yet we continue to turn a blind eye to the daily dangers that we are putting thousands of young lives as they continue to use these unsafe and un-maintained buildings.
Most of the original buildings at Fairbridge primary school have collapsed save it be for two; one new block has been put up bringing the total number of classroom buildings to three. The three impoverished structures cram over 400 pupils.
Although we are four years into the coalition government, poor infrastructure provisioning continues to plague the delivery of effective education and there has been very little improvement on the ground in terms of buildings. This is especially so in the case of poor rural provinces.
Fairbridge Primary school is not even in a rural province and if it is in such a state one dreads to think of the state of schools in the poor rural areas.
This is a call to our politicians, but most of all to the businesses in the vicinity of Fairbridge primary school, yes, Netbrew (Chibuku), Clay products (Ldt), Cement side (CCP Zimbabwe), McDonald Bricks , the Support Unit ZRPolice (Fairbridge) and indeed the alumni of this once great school, lets help this your/our school. Lets come together and make it a better place indeed a centre of excellence.
Many schools across Zimbabwe are in a state of disrepair; those in the Diaspora have a role be it as part of Old school associations or as organisations to resource such schools. We all need to come together to work at rebuilding our education system.
You can call the Head teacher Ms S Khumalo on +263 773270484 and find out how you can personally help Fairbridge Primary School. Or you can follow the school’s new facebook page and follow developments.