Quiet revolution in Nyanga

Bridge Reporter —
An educational revolution is silently taking place in Nyanga, where the world-acclaimed Knowstics Academy is set to introduce a unique international boys’ college that will be revolutionary in its thrust on closing the skills gap.

Sandwiched between two mountain ranges in a scenic and serene environment in the Manyore area of Nyanga, the academy, which is one of the best-performing schools in the country, will, beginning next term, offer a curriculum that prepares “boys to become men.”

Knowstics already has an established girls’ academy. Unlike most educational institutions that seek to produce students that will be ushered on the job market, the academy seeks to introduce a curriculum that will close the knowledge versus skills gap.

Mrs Edith Mukuwapasi, the Knowstics Academy Principal, took time to explain the revolutionary concept.

“In my view, today’s boys are not being taught the survival skills that they must have when they become men. Apart from the academic knowledge, we want to transform them to become men. Our broad curriculum will ensure that our students can conquer unforeseen challenges in the future, be it in the sciences, business or social sciences arena,” Mrs Mukuwapasi said.

Mrs Mukuwapasi said that apart from the academics, students will have practical learning in agriculture, construction, food processing and design technology among others.

Apart from working with the teachers, the academy has since roped in engineers, an architect and horticultural expert to work with the students.

“Some students only get to have a feel of what they will be using in their trade when they enroll at polytechnics and universities. We want to close the skills gap by introducing the boys to real-life work situations.”

“From our school, students must go out there and create employment opportunities for themselves and other people, in line with the Zim-Asset goals,” Mrs Mukuwapasi said.

The students will be taught piggery, fashion and fabrics, beef production, among other skills. A closer look at the academy’s thrust reveals that it is premised on Maoist theories of survival and discipline.

According to Mrs Mukuwapasi, the principles of survival and discipline fundamentally changed the fortunes of China. She said that the Chinese theories will be blended with the Zimbabwean values of “unhu.”

“We will be able to provide an environment that encourages personal growth, confidence building and develop character in our students,” added Mrs Mukuwapasi.

In an effort to make sure that the academy realizes its goals, some of its teachers were attached to educational institutions in the United Arab Emirates and India where they learned how to get the best out of boys.

“I noticed that most of the students in this country are not disciplined.  I have personally been to India where I learnt how educational institutions can set learning environment that best suit boys. The way we must teach boys is totally different from the way we teach girls,” added Mrs Mukuwapasi.

With 24 years teaching experience, Mrs Mukuwapasi taught at the nearby St James Bonda Mission for 15 years. She also taught in the United Kingdom.

The college will also have a first of its kind research centre whose purpose is to develop critical thinking as well as feedback skills. According to Mrs Mukuwapasi, the centre will go a long way in providing hands-on skills and experience in agriculture, carpentry and building.

She said the students will value creativity and be innovative thinkers and will ensure they acquire transferrable skills which will enable them to make sustainable connections in a broad and competitive world.

At the research centre, students will carry research in agro based (field   and animal sciences), structural design and technology. Mrs Mukuwapasi said her institution will debunk the notion that science subjects are a preserve of a few students.

The institution is working towards establishing an international institute of science and technology by 2020. A recent visit to the institution revealed that the institution is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to establish one of the best international boys’ colleges.

Construction workers were busy putting final touches to some of the recently constructed buildings. Among the institution’s modern structures are dormitories, dining halls and computer laboratories.

Under construction are swimming pools, an entertainment area, gyms, a sports field and even a mini golf course. In the institution’s girls section, Knowstics has, in the past three years, surpassed expectations, registering 100 percent pass rates in both the “O” and “A” level Zimsec and Cambridge examinations.

In the 2013 Zimsec examinations, Mr Maunga, the academy’s headmaster emerged as the best Geography teacher in the country. Several other teachers also did the same in Business Studies, Divinity and Accounts.

Again in 2013, two of the institution’s teachers were adjudged to be the best teachers in the world in their respective subjects after their students had done exceptionally well in the Cambridge international examinations.

Messrs Mawoneni and Chaeruka were adjudged to the best History and Divinity teachers. Teachers at the institution are highly motivated and are given performance-based contracts.

The school came up with a number of previously unknown measures that have contributed immensely to the successes which the institution is enjoying.

Unlike some schools that only enroll pupils that would have done exceptionally well in Grade Seven, Knowstics has earned a reputation for transforming average pupils into excellent students.

The Knowstics International Boys College will enroll students from Form One up to Form Six. As a result of both the students’ upkeep and the pass rates, the academy attracts students from as far afield as Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique, among other countries.

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