St Angela to the rescue as Covid-19 wreaks havoc

community builders:with Takemore Mazuruse

Zimbabwe is respected for its high literacy rate and even amidst the economic meltdown and the Covid-19-induced lockdown, education remains a priority.

Among other essential services, government has continued to provide a lee way for exam classes to continue.

Amid all these efforts to keep the national educational system viable, the challenges remain evident as students and educators compete with various militating factors. However, some new innovation by educationists has seen some positives with the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Ordinary Level results statistical analysis for 2020 showing an improvement in the pass rate from 22,38%in 2014 to 33,86%in 2019.

Some of the key players in improved education curricula include private schools who are making great inroads in the field of education. One such school which is excelling is St Angela Academy.

This private school, which is situated in Borrowdale, and opened its doors in 2015, has achieved very good pass rates over the years with some of its students, including the Manyere twins Tanatswanaishe and Tashinganaishe, passing their November 2020 exams with flying colours.

Principal of the school Margaret Bhowa had this to say: “We believe every child has potential to excel in their God-given field. We do not discriminate against academically challenged students, but we help every student to become the best that they can. Achievement of academic excellence is a process that starts from understanding that every child is unique and has unique capabilities. From that basis we mould each into a masterpiece that can face the world’s challenges. We take a maximum of 15 students per class and this model makes it easy for teachers to assist each child on a one-on-one basis, hence our amazing results,” she said.

St Angela has since been registered as a Cambridge International School and also as a Cambridge exam centre. This means their students no longer have to write their exams at sister schools as was the case under the previous arrangement.

“We believe in excellence and for that reason we are happy to have attained Cambridge International school status and becoming a Cambridge exam centre. Our students used to write at Gateway High and High Achievers, but we have since moved past that thanks to the new status. We thank them for being good partners in the education of the Zimbabwean child,” Bhowa said.

St Angela Academy also boasts of remarkably high pass rates thanks to their wholesome education that covers the spiritual side of things and moulding a good character for the student.

“Our O’ and A’ Level pass rates have never been below 90%, with the peak being 2020 A’ Level results where we attained an all-time high of 100%,” Bhowa said.

“Our best student this year, Tanatswanaishe Manyere, scored 15 points with an A in Business Studies, A in Accounting and A in Economics while his twin brother Tashinganaishe also fared well with 9 points in Accounts, Business Studies and IT. The majority of our students also passed with flying colours and we are encouraged by this feat.”

Speaking to Standard Style, Tanatswanaishe said discipline and dedication to his studies coupled with the well-structured student nurturing at St Angela gave him a winning formula in spite of the Covid-19 lockdown limitations.

“I am really happy that I made it particularly given the Covid-19-induced lockdown situation that saw us learning online. Learning from home is not easy because there are so many distractions including having to deal with errands, TV and other logistical challenges,” Tanatswanaishe said.

“Thanks to my discipline and dedication, I am happy to have passed with flying colours. Besides my dedication and discipline in learning, I also thank the support from my parents and our teachers at St Angela where the teacher-student ratio allows for closer support. It’s a great school and allows for effective learning.”

Tanatswanaishe, who is looking to undertake a degree in Accounting and Finance, said he hopes to become a chartered account and start an accounting firm.

His sentiments were echoed by his twin brother Tashinganaishe, who said he was equally happy about his grades, the learning environment at St Angela and is geared for tertiary education.

“Nothing comes easy and I am happy that we have attained these good grades. I am thankful to my teachers at St Angela who were readily available to support us socially and educationally,” Tashinganaishe.

“I encourage fellow students not to waste time, but work hard because exam times come sooner than we can think. I am ready for university and I will be studying Accounting and Finance with a dream to become a chartered accountant.”

The students’ parents Pastors David and Tsitsi Manyere, who also provide stewardship and spiritual guidance at the school, said they were overwhelmed by their children’s achievements and prayed that the same standards apply not only at St Angela but across the Zimbabwean education system.

“I am David Manyere married to Tsitsi and we are both pastors active in ministry and doing our own business ventures to ensure that most of our needs are met.

We are totally overwhelmed by the twins’ results. It’s prayer answered considering the very tough environment in which they found themselves in given the Covid-19-induced lockdown,” said Pastor Manyere.

“I am very grateful to St Angela; the teaching staff never gave up despite the Covid-19 challenges. They were very strict and punctual in doing the online lessons when it looked like it was all doom and gloom. We also made sure the boys made studying their number one priority. Either myself or my wife would make sure that the boys had done their online assignments in time.We also resorted to encouraging them.”

The man of the cloth also commended the twins for their good behaviour and Christian values, which he said contributed to their good grades.

“The two boys are very unique in that they are strongly inspired by the Word of God without being pushed. They are also very ambitious and are motivated by our story because even amidst our challenges growing up, we didn’t allow economic challenges to hinder our fight for a better tomorrow,” he said.

Bhowa also shared some insights on the school, highlighting that the Christian values have made them a shining beacon as students come out wholly educated mentally, physically and spiritually.

“St Angela is a deeply devoted Christian-oriented community. All school activities start with spiritual devotions and that has helped shape the character of our students. Even the lockdown situation did not limit us and we believe our O’ Level results will be equally as good,” she said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic saw schools shutting down during the seven-month lockdown from March 2020. St Angela Academy embarked on e-learning from April 2020 till schools opened in September 2020. Support and encouragement from parents and teachers, as well as extra effort and commitment from students has made students pass with flying colours in spite of the lockdown.”

Bhowa, a respected educationist, encouraged parents to be supportive of their students and to give their all during this lockdown period and said it was business as usual at St Angela thanks to e-learning.

“I encourage parents to give our children maximum support, ensuring that all relevant educational material is made available in time, and ensuring that they prioritise their school work on a daily basis. It is important for every parent to know that the best inheritance one can give to children is not material things, but a good education and knowing God,” she said.

“We are continuing with these e-learning initiatives and encourage students to register and join our virtual classes in 2021 which cater for Forms 1 to 6. Classes commenced on 11 January 2021 via the school’s vibrant e-learning networks.

“Parents and prospective students can check our social media, visit our website or come to the school in Borrowdale for enquiries and registration.”

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