The Sunday Mail
Leroy Dzenga Lifestyle Writer
There is an internet joke stating that the best French fries usually come from the most unappealing of sources.
It appears the digital adage can be applied in education too, as results are coming not from the well-resourced institutions but humble settings where passion overrides aesthetic.
In Highfield, there is a Christian college defying perception producing exceptional results with its learners.
From the 2018/19 ZIMSEC Ordinary and Advanced Level First Choice College in Highfield showed that with the right heart, barriers can be broken.
The school had a 53 percent pass rate at O level, higher than the national average which was at 38 percent.
At Advanced level the script was even better aligned as they had 92 percent pass rate.
But how was this exceptional institution sharing space with a church birthed?
Mr Edmore Munemo, the school`s director said it was an idea that availed itself during his teaching days in the early 2000s.
“When we were teaching, there were a lot of learners who came to us with requests for extra lessons. That is when we identified a gap and serviced it,” he said.
Starting out from humble beginnings, the school has grown beyond the expectation Munemo and three of his teaching colleagues had when they took this leap of faith.
“The school started in February 2005, we had 53 students and we were focused on Form 3 and Form 4s. In 2016 we managed to have an enrolment of 863 students. We now have more than 800 students and we are eyeing more growth,” said Munemo.
Besides providing a Christian environment that encourages hard work, the school has a philanthropic element which has seen them help many students and most of them have passed with bright colours.
From a group that handled extra lessons to producing some of the best results the country has ever seen, First Choice College is one of the most enthralling stories in Zimbabwean education currently.
Denzel Munyewa (17) said he could not find a place for form one at conventional schools due to his family`s financial standing.
“My parents did not have money to send me to Form One and public schools could not give me an ear. By luck I received a scholarship here at First Choice College,” the aspiring scientist said.
He wrote his Ordinary Level exams in 2018 and came out with brilliant results, 6As, 4Bs and 1c.
The school extended Munyewa`s scholarship to A-level.
Joseph Nyamande (17) who had 10 As and a B said they were drilled to work hard from their first day at school.
“The results went beyond my expectation, I was getting good grades but I did not think they would come out this brilliant,” he said.
“Our teachers were strict on discipline, we knew we did not have the best of facilities but we understood that results were expected of us,
In the absence of state of the art equipment like other well-endowed schools, the school used technology to bridge the gap.
“We did not have a big laboratory like others do, but our teachers would show us videos of experiments and we learnt that way. We were the first stream to do sciences here. I was sceptical at first but they exceeded our expectation. I am going to trust the school with my A-level too,” Nyamande said, signaling he will be doing Maths, Physics and Chemistry.
Nyamande wants to be a computer scientist.
Panashe Chinyemba, a girl who came out with 10As and a B said she believes her exceptional results are a result of the research approach at the school.
“Our teachers were strict, they did not tolerate laziness. They kept us on our toes. Our school may not have been a group A school but we made peace with our environment and worked hard,” she said.
Chinyemba added; “I am going to be doing Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Statistics. I am looking to study actuarial sciences when I get to college.”
First Choice College, also gives tuition to learners from Children`s Home, giving them a fair chance at life at a school with proven results.
A place where class does not exist in the many classes it carries.
A place where the uppermost resource is hardwork has become an educational phenomenon.
Parents who defy rule and place their trust in an institution still in the process of building its school have ripped more dividends than others who have invested thousands sending their children to leafy schools.
It is not an institution anyone is expected to choose first, but the story behind is a testament of belief and resilience.
There are many more institutions like First Choice College across the country, whose story is a poetic summation of how fruitful diligent breaks of sweat can be.
The mere fact that they could successfully teach science subjects via the internet is itself a marvel and a sign that with the will, anything can be achieved.
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