By Leonard Ncube
The Salesian Missionaries arrived in Zimbabwe in 1995 and settled in Harare before deciding to open a mission in Hwange in 2000. Don Bosco Technical School was opened in 2007 by the Catholic Church’s Salasians of Don Bosco Trust to offer vocational technical courses.
After having started with a great hall and volunteer house, plans are there to open a technical secondary school with the hope of developing a complete youth with skills to live a self-sustaining life after school.
This is in line with government vision for an upper middle economy by year 2030.
The idea is literacy and the need to educate the poorest children, professional formation, technical training to equip youths through workshops and scholarships alongside evangelization.
In 2017 Don Bosco Technical College started preparatory work to expand to lower secondary education.
This started with an all stakeholders meeting where a “$1 for a brick” project was unveiled to raise more than $3 million for expansion purposes.
Government has given support to the cause, granting an operating license and admitting this will transform Matabeleland North as was said by Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda when he officiated at the school in 2017.
The institution has finally opened its doors with the first group of 80 Form 1 pupils to be enrolled in January.
Last week a second all stakeholders meeting was held at the premises where the pledge was made.
The institution’s director Fr. Bruno Zamberlan said Don Bosco Technical Secondary School will be an annex of Marist Brothers Secondary in Dete.
“We started this journey in September last year when we gathered all stakeholders from the region and around the country to give input to our project. We already got approval from government hence next year we’re going to be opening an annex of Marist Brothers Secondary School with a first batch of 80 Form 1 pupils,” said Fr. Bruno.
He said the idea of a secondary school came after realization that existing schools are far apart and overpopulated hence the need to alleviate the challenge as well as offer quality education.
Fr. Bruno said learners will go through technical skills training such as Information Communication Technologies, Building Studies, Textiles Technology, Combined Science, Mathematics, Agriculture, Geography, English, Nambya, Family and Religious Community Studies.
“The idea is to take a child through a career path which they proceed with to tertiary education,” he said.
There are plans to construct additional classrooms to complement the available ones.
Higher Life Foundation financial director Solomon Gomendo who was guest of honor at the recent all stakeholders event, called for an all-stakeholder support for the school to contribute to national development agenda.
“This initiative should rejuvenate collective commitment towards educating and empowering youths in Matabeleland North and contributing to national development through education. We envision economically active youths who will usher Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030 hence we need to work as partners,” he said.
He said Higherlife Foundation would seek to have an agreement with this institution to consummate the dream, while urging the school to be demand driven to bridge the skills gap in the province through value education.
The Catholic Church’s Salesians of Don Bosco Trust have secured donors who have however given them a condition that they must raise 15 percent of the $3,3 million to show commitment before funding can be released.
Technical vocational courses on offer include bricklaying, wildlife management, computer studies, clothing technology, information technology, beauty therapy, secretarial studies, purchasing and supply management, marketing, accounting, food preparation at certificate and diploma level.
Fr. Bruno said more focus will be on mining, tourism and hospitality areas which are the cornerstone of Matabeleland North economy.
Don Bosco Technical College is the only technical vocational college in Matabeleland North and the second tertiary institution after Lupane State University.
Government requires an additional 2 000 with plans underway to build 100 institutions per year in the next five years.
Don Bosco Technical Secondary will definitely fill the gap and ease pressure on existing schools in Hwange.
Matabeleland North has a critical shortage of schools with only 600 primary and 200 secondary schools.