Stephenson has provided Pakati Secondary School in Zimbabwe with 7 computers and other equipment to help set up its first computer skills facility.
Information Technology Manager Stuart Pine said: “I heard Chris Walker on BBC Radio Humberside talking about his work in Zimbabwe and his aspirations to help support the school. I knew we had computer equipment that we due to renewal and that we could help Chris by providing this donation to help the children gain experience and valuable computer skills …”
Chris Walker, (left in the picture) was delighted to receive the equipment which will be shipped out in time for his next visit in September, where they will be transported to the school and set up.
Chris’ background and dedication are ones to behold.
This is what he said to us: “I trained as a Middle School teacher from Bradford College with a B. Ed. Hons from 1984 to 1988, during which time I made friends with a Zimbabwean family. The idea of teaching abroad came from talking with them. It was pure coincidence that I actually ended up working there. Firstly, I applied to VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), got accepted, and having been turned down by Sierra Leone and the Solomon Islands, I was offered Zimbabwe. I jumped at it. Pakati was already calling me…”.
History of Pakati Secondary School
The school was built in 1983/4 by local builders & carpenters, the first students began there in 1984. One block, two classrooms soon became 3 blocks & 6 classrooms, each with a store room, one of which was the Headmasters office. By the time I arrived there in January 1989, a 4th block was under construction. The school got its name during the construction of the nearby Primary school as it was starting out. Two families who had worked on the construction lived near to the school and sent their children to learn there. They couldn’t agree on naming it after one of the families so called it ‘Pakati’ which, in the local Shona language means ‘in between’.
How Chris Got Involved
Chris expressed his involvement with the school:
“The then Headmaster, Mr Samakomva, approached me for VSO in Harar, Ethiopia, for a position of Maths Teacher, following an agreement between the Zimbabwean & British governments, largely funded through Britains Overseas Development/Aid programme. I had specialised in Maths. My details were sent to Zimbabwe and they accepted me. I agreed, and on January 6th, 1989, I was on my way to Pakati courtesy of Air Ethiopia…”
What was achieved during my time?
“I worked at Pakati from January 1989 to September 1991. For the first 2 years, I was a Maths Teacher to Form 2, 3 & 4 students - Form 4 being their GCSE year. At the beginning of 1991 due to unforseen circumstances, I became the Acting Head of Pakati Secondary School. I believe that the best thing I did there was to organise the school administration, setting it on a path to better exam results than what would have previously been achieved. I also trained up a local teacher to take my place, and he stayed for some years afterwards.”
What will these computers bring to the school?
The school is (one of many in Zimbabwe) at the lower end of state funding, and the local community are subsistence farmers whose income is not always stable. Other better funded schools nearby are already teaching using technology, so these computers will hopefully level the playing field to an extent. Already many use mobile phones even in such a remote area, so computing should not be such a big step for the students. I believe they are as capable as any other students; they just need the facilities to prove it.
“For friends of Pakati, I see it evolving into the supporting other areas, something of which is already starting with the donations of sports equipment. I am keen to keep in touch with the school, and make sure I follow local protocols in order to help where they feel they most need it.”