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Talking Nkayi Education: Slicing the education cake with high-flying Zwelabo Secondary School

04 Aug 2019 at 16:46hrs | Views
Zwelabo Secondary School, founded in 1984 and located about fifty kilometres west of Nkayi Centre in Matabeleland North Province, is arguably the jewel and golden place to be, for many progressive students and teachers. The people of Zwelabo are justified in believing that success is the magnet for those seeking to achieve. It is even more than a virtue just to construct your communal homestead in the peripheries of the prestigious yet embracing Zwelabo Secondary School. The school of excellence currently tops the charts in Nkayi in terms of educational performance and achievement at Ordinary Level. The school has miraculously shot to unbelievably high levels of educational attainment and is now the enviable household name in the whole district and Matabeleland North in general, thereby effortlessly stealing the limelight from the generally advantaged, well-resourced and gainfully located lot of Nkayi and Hlangabeza high schools. The thrilling performance by Zwelabo is ironically a blessing in disguise for Hlangabeza and Nkayi High students! Negative motivation seems to be running rings as the staff of the two traditionally high performing schools are thought to be in panic mode in a bid to outsmart Zwelabo. Inevitably, the example of Zwelabo has to be emulated by all and sundry for the good of Nkayi development.

Zwelabo riding on cloud nine!

Physically located on a beautiful landscape just a stone throw north of Lupane Valley, boasting of largely evergreen vegetation and tall, dark green-leafed ‘igonte' and ‘mangwe' indigenous trees, Zwelabo Secondary is currently riding on cloud nine as the school has taken an extraordinary leap to lead the charts in educational attainment and performance in the district. Technically speaking, Zwelabo is the best performing school as it stands. That is no easy feat considering the remoteness of Mphakama area in which the renowned and highly reputable school is situated in south western Nkayi. The area is an unsung producer of graduates in various educational disciplines who are scattered globally in destinations that include the USA, Canada, UAE and the UK, among others. Reliable sources posit that the village boasts of at least three doctors of philosophy(PhD) graduates who are all female. Thus the empowerment and recognition of the girl child at its best! It is the current Zwelabo's high-flying  teaching staff and high-gear students that revoke the nostalgic memories of the origins of Zwelabo and her educational prowess and success. If anyone is looking for the best disciplined and exceptionally well performing school, let them knock on the beautiful gates of Zwelabo, son of Mphakama kaSidambe! With humility and gratitude, the whole community of Zwelabo is irresistibly riding on cloud nine in terms of educational achievement and Nkayi development.

Zwelabo staff-motivation

Although civil servants are generally thought to be disaffected and low-moraled, the defiantly diligent staff of Zwelabo are a stark contrast. They have professed as true, the saying that money is not the only motivator for excellence. Instead, one simply needs a small dose of ‘Zwelabo staff-motivation', a mixture available from their school administration block. Interestingly, the school does not have material rewards for the staff at the present moment but only have future plans for such. These will include small incentives like tea, lunch and suchlike, for staff members. The current major tool of motivation is verbal encouragement and inspirational leadership from the down to earth Mr Victor Sibanda, the school head, and his enthusiastic and progressive team. Professional verbal compliments and acknowledgement of good work, are the armoury that is easily tilting the scales of the battle in favour of Zwelabo. This is coupled with the collective setting of targets at the beginning of each academic year. Future performance is projected in relation to previous records and results. What a modern and civilized approach to education! These are times when even old and retired teachers would feel like untying the bandages on their knees and get back to the classroom! In Zwelabo the basic maxim of success is that if you fail to improve, rather maintain previous performance. No regression whatsoever. That has seen the school of excellence remain glued and eagle-eyed on best performance. Arguably and interestingly, every school in Nkayi and elsewhere simply needs the Zwelabo concoction for guaranteed academic excellence.

Zwelabo student-motivation

Not to be outdone by their high-flying teachers, Zwelabo students are electrified and highly charged to succeed. The live-wire students can be expertly described by one who, by sheer  luck, has met hungry lanky hounds in hot pursuit of prey. The hunger for success, as exhibited by the self-motivated Zwelabo students is unprecedented in Nkayi. Their education is a priority over any other sideshows no matter how enticing they can be. It had been unheard of, for students to analyze previous performance by their school and use them as a benchmark for setting future targets. Zwelabo students are doing exactly that! Further, the school provides expert guidance and counselling so that students study what meets their needs and capabilities in line with their envisaged careers. This empowers them to map their future on their own, if you have heard of ‘masters of their own fate'! This approach has seen the students explode into their current mode of excellence. Former students also flock to the school to inspire the already hungry-for-success Zwelabo students, verbally or by volunteering as assistant tutors. Subsequently, unbelievably colourful results have been produced especially in the normally feared subjects like Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, among others.

Motivational events like the Speech and Prize Giving Days are also another tool of encouragement. Psychologists argue that motivation is key for students to learn. That view speaks to life in the context of Zwelabo. Through encouragement, you miraculously whet their appetite for success. As a former Zwelabo student, this writer is also humbled by the opportunity he was recently given by the school to speak to and motivate the students. Such are the enviable experiences in which the motivators find themselves being motivated instead. In addition to setting their own targets, Zwelabo students also set targets that spell their expectations from the teachers, and everything is recorded. Any teacher who hits or nearly hits the target is rewarded. However, scarcity of resources remains a monumental challenge. For all progressive students, a medicinal drop of ‘Zwelabo student-motivation' is a must have.

Participatory Management

Zwelabo seems to thrive on what one would call participatory management which is people-centred, consistent, principled and systematic. The school management team is arguably the best in Nkayi District and boasts of local talent and expertise born and bred in Nkayi. The fluid team relies on positive reinforcement as opposed to fear and threats. The supportive relationships initiated by the school management team are easily shooting the school to greater heights. The composition of the leadership team confirms the general belief that Nkayi problems need Nkayians themselves to solve. Remember, we are not cry babies on their mothers' backs! Mr Sibanda and his able deputy head, Ms Tracy Dube, are Nkayians with the development of Nkayi at heart. Locals fervently pray that after all the good work, Mr Sibanda should not be removed from the school like what happened to the workaholic Mrs Ndlovu who was unceremoniously removed from Mphakama Primary School to Mbuma Mission, to the chagrin of locals. Mrs Ndlovu sadly left the school after a sterling performance that saw the school advance remarkably in terms of infrastructural development and community participation. Sometimes a cow that provides plenty milk receives no rewards, our elders say.

Zwelabo and its challenges

In our culture it is believed that beauty always has ugliness as her illicit companion hidden close by. Although Zwelabo is enviably on cruising mode, it is not without challenges. Some students painfully walk long distances to school which adversely affects their academic performance. Despite the fact that the school has established a mini-boarding facility, the problem is still a menace. Understaffing could be another problem as some teachers are said to be teaching several subjects which could be hindering their performance. More so, the increased numbers of students due to good results by the school of excellence has further manufactured high demand for resources. Nkayians are therefore called upon to put all hands on deck for the good cause. Do our elders not say many hands make light work?

Wonderful place to be!

Zwelabo is definitely a wonderful place to be, for every progressive student, teacher or parent. There is need to hurry while the limited learning slots still exist as green flies report that hordes of students are wilfully leaving schools of yesteryear glory like Mpumelelo, Nkayi and Hlangabeza High to at least be registered with and be counted at the prestigious ‘Hall of Fame' in Nkayi, Zwelabo Secondary School. This is the unsung academic furnace that is credited for the churning of even this lowly, humble and rurally groomed community writer, among other unsung but great academic heroes of our time. Ultimately, one would say, slicing the education cake with high-flying Zwelabo Secondary School is everyone's dream that should be realized!

Those who can, let them hear!

Nhlanhla Moses writes in his capacity as a Nkayian and former student of Zwelabo Secondary School and can be contacted on:

App: +27733862303

Source - Nhlanhla Moses
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