This article was previously published on UNICEF Zimbabwe.
Uzumba, Zimbabwe - Wearing a white laboratory coat over her school uniform, Loreen Matsukunya used beakers and test tubes to test the acidity and alkalinity of different solutions at Magunje High School in rural northeastern Zimbabwe.
A new laboratory constructed using funds from the Complementary Funding disbursed through School Improvement Grant (SIG) program is reigniting her childhood ambitions of pursuing a science-driven career.
“I want to be a biologist when I finish school,” said the 16-year-old. “But there was a time I gave up; it just seemed impossible for someone learning at such a poor and rural school.”
Her dream appeared shattered after she enrolled as a Form 1 student in 2020. School authorities nudged pupils into concentrating on arts and commercial subjects without a science laboratory.
Still, Loreen took up the few STEM-related subjects the school could offer, albeit more as a theoretical exercise than a practical enterprise that could drive her ambitions. At Advanced Level, the school did not offer science subject combinations that could enable her to qualify for a university STEM degree.
“I lost all hope. I knew that my dream was over; it was cruel,” said Loreen, who is finding the practical science experiments helpful in her preparations for Ordinary Level examinations scheduled towards the end of the year.
As if to put the painful past behind her, Loreen steered the conversation towards the more promising present… and future.
“Eyes on the ball, the results are ready,” she said to a colleague whose task was to note the progress of the experiment in a notebook. Tongai Musariri, the Science Head of the Department, checked and confirmed that the experiment had been done right. High fives followed.
Musariri said the school, located about 80 kilometers northeast of Harare's capital, now plans to introduce science subjects at Advanced Level in 2024, tapping into eager pupils such as Loreen.
“We cannot continue to deprive these children of their dreams by limiting ourselves to commercial and arts subjects when we now have a science lab. Also, introducing science subjects at Advanced Level here will ease the burden on the few schools offering STEM subjects in our district,” said Musariri, noting that the school enrolls students from villages as far as 20 kilometers away.