Passion and determination to build a better future for fellow youth has driven a group of young people in Hatcliffe to start an informal study group. The lack of formal schools in Hatcliffe Extension, coupled with the fact that over 3,000 children of school going age are not getting any education, lead to the founding of the Breakthrough Study Group.
Moreblessing Gwanya is the co-founder of the now registered trust (Breakthrough Youth Zimbabwe) and the budding school. He explains, “In my community education is not a priority, even less so for girls who are expected to spend hours each day looking for firewood. Many young people turn to risky social behaviour and drug abuse as they suffer in poverty.”
He said education should not be regarded as a privilege while the law regards it as a right. “I believe with good education we can finally manage to break the cycle of poverty where young people turn to drugs and alcohol, while girls end up in early marriages. With proper education people will be able to make more informed decisions,” said Gwanya.
Gwanya is one of many young people who didn’t get any formal education due to financial constraints. He failed his first attempt at ‘O’ Levels. “I then got into the Glen Forest study group but because people there were coming from very different backgrounds and varied age groups I did not learn much,” he said.
Gwanya, together with like-minded young people, started their own study group, with a friend (only identified as Talent) coaching them in different subjects. He said, “More people joined our group and we helped each other to get better results.”
The successes of the small study group gave Gwanya and Ephraim Muwengwa the idea to from an even bigger group and register their organisation as a Trust to help fellow youths. “We also realized that the younger ones were also affected by the lack of formal schools and the lack of finances to travel to neighbouring communities to study, so we expanded our reach to primary school students,” said Muwengwa.
Breakthrough Youth Zimbabwe was registered in January this year and on 27th of May Hatcliffe Extension received a ray of hope through free education. “We wanted to begin earlier but we lacked the funds to build temporary structures,” he said. Harare North MP Tongesai Mudambu gave them temporary land and Tinashe Manjeso, a previous group member, donated funds to buy temporary structures.
Breakthrough has 120 students, 87 of them fulltime, while the rest are attached to a government programme that allows them two hours of school a week. Gwanya said, “Our biggest challenge is the payment of teachers since school fees are not mandatory for all students.” Only ten percent of the students contribute towards teachers’ salaries while the rest cannot afford to pay any school fees. “We do piece jobs for Miracle Missions and other individuals to raise money to give our teachers – who are more or less voluntary – some token of appreciation,” he said.
The organisation, through a liaison initiated by Miracle Missions, has received an offer to build proper infrastructure from the Meikles Foundation. “The deal will only come through if we acquire land to build the school on, and we have been pushing through relevant officials for a space to build the school,” said Gwanya. Other well-wishers have been chipping in with various donations including Mai Zhuwao (Co-owner of Red Fox Hotel) who is the project’s patron and the Honourable Mudambu. “We still lack stationery, textbooks, furniture, and many of the other day to day requirements of running a school,” Gwanya said.
Well-wishers can contact [email protected] or call Moreblessing Gwanya on 0777 258 613.
Photo: Hatcliffe suffers from a total lack of almost all amenities. (Rebecca Davies)