This article was previously published on UNICEF Zimbabwe.
Murewa, Zimbabwe - Farirai Gatsi, a Grade Seven pupil at Muneno Primary School in Zimbabwe’s Murewa district, walks about five kilometres to be at school by 6.30 am and is usually among the last to leave. She uses the extra time to join a group discussion or scour textbooks for information that may help her better prepare for impending examinations.
“Waking up in the morning is just a small sacrifice I have to make to get good grades. More importantly, I now have the textbooks to use,” she said, holding an agriculture textbook.
Muneno Primary School is one of the thousands of primary schools across the southern African country of 15 million people that have benefitted from the provision of textbooks funded under the Global Partnership for Education program in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
Farirai wasn’t always committed to the school. Before the provision of textbooks, school days were the worst days for 12-year-olds. Fights would frequently break out among pupils tussling for the scarce but critical resource.
Tiny in stature, Farirai recalled being at the receiving end of the bullying to the extent that school turned from a learning hub into a dreaded place of torment.
“The textbook shortages always resulted in conflicts; it caused much bullying in the class. I am the youngest, and also, I have a small body so I would suffer because the bigger ones would use force to grab the textbooks for themselves,” she recalled. “Right now, each one has their textbooks; bullying has stopped. I am enjoying my studies in peace.”
Unlike before, she doesn’t have to rely only on the work given by the teacher or spend hours copying from the board.
“The teacher simply refers us to the textbook for our homework. I can also go the extra mile by using textbooks to read and research further. We don’t have reliable internet here, and even if we had internet, most of our parents can’t afford to buy us smartphones or data, so these textbooks are our primary source of information for research,” she said.