Saturday, October 28, 2006

Priceless Exports

By Elizabeth Bara, ASAP Executive Director
“Our optimism is Zimbabwe’s greatest commodity” explains Willie Dhlandhlara, ASAP’s Zimbabwe Country Director, during our recent conversation. We were discussing why, despite all projections, the Zimbabwe economy keeps right on going. Each month the brain drain continues, and one of the greatest losses to the country is the exodus of skilled teaching professionals. The following article helps one to understand the situation.

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 27 October

Lessons from Zim
David Macfarlane

Zimbabwe’s loss is set to be South Africa’s gain, as the education department casts covetous eyes on the growing pool of highly qualified Zimbabwean schoolteachers who have fled their home country. The department’s Director General, Duncan Hindle, told the Mail & Guardian that it is targeting Zimbabweans in a plan that will simultaneously encourage South African high school teachers to improve their skills. The idea involves encouraging local teachers to take sabbaticals to upgrade in subjects such as maths, and to replace these teachers for the period of their studies with suitably qualified Zimbabweans. The government has previously spoken of recruiting teachers from Cuba and India to meet growing shortages in scarce skills areas such as maths and science. As part of the strategy, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s medium-term budget this week announced that 900 bursaries will be available next year for teachers who want to pursue postgraduate qualifications in maths, science and life skills.

It is not known exactly how many Zimbabwean teachers live in South Africa, but the number runs into thousands, said Doctor Ncube, chairperson of the South African branch of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe. The union recently started compiling a register of these teachers, and has 500 on its books. However, Ncube said the majority were in fields like catering and the security industry. Many had entered the country illegally, and even those with the right paperwork had difficulty in registering professionally as teachers in South Africa. He said: "The few who are teaching endure terrible working conditions in private schools, earning R1 000 or R2 000 a month. If they don’t have the right legal documents, they often have no work contracts, and are exploited as vulnerable cheap labour. If you question your salary, they show you the gate, and another teacher walks in to replace you." Very low teachers’ salaries in Zimbabwe, inflation "that has crippled everyone", and political factors explain the flood south, Ncube said. "In the 2002 elections, the government accused especially rural teachers of encouraging communities to support the opposition MDC, and persecuted and punished these teachers, often depriving them of salaries."

In some Johannesburg inner-city private schools, 95% to 100% of staff are Zimbabwean, Ncube said. "We’re seeing good results there. Township communities are bringing their children to those schools - so they have already accepted us and have faith in us." He said he would welcome a formal meeting with the education department, at which he would supply data on teachers’ qualifications. One of those on Ncube’s list is Benjamin Ndlovu, a 37-year-old university graduate and qualified high school teacher of biology and geography. He came to South Africa in August last year, desperate to escape the Zimbabwean government’s "general neglect of teachers, who are often not paid", he told the M&G. "All I want is a job in a South African public school," he said, "where I know I can earn respect, because the South African government respects teachers, as well as a decent salary. We want recognition as human beings whose services will be applauded." Despite his qualifications, Ndlovu ekes out a living as a primary school teacher at a private institution in Johannesburg, earning a mere R1 700 per month. "And many of us Zimbabwean teachers here earn less than that."

Francine de Clerq, a lecturer in Wits University’s school of education, said Zimbabwean teacher qualifications are excellent. This is partly because of the foundation provided by the country’s school system, which is modelled on Britain’s. Zimbabwean teachers also have the advantage of excellent English, whereas "teachers from Cuba or India are often hardly understood by our learners". The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union media officer, Jon Lewis, said Sadtu has no objection in principle to the recruitment of foreign teachers to fill specific shortages. "Caveats are that we must first use any unemployed South African teachers; that local teachers be allowed to retrain in scarce areas; and that foreign teachers must have full professional status with conditions of service equal to those of South Africans."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Diamond in the Ruff

I was given a book yesterday and asked to read a little section that spoke on GlobalGiving. I knew a little about the organization from my time at ASAP, but this article gave me a brand new prospective. My mind began processing so many thoughts on non-profit organizations, but I kept coming back to this one question "Who really cares?"

GlobalGiving is one of those organizations that capture the beauty of non-profit. They have designed their work to help the donor and non-profit find a meeting ground and make change possible. The blueprint for this organization was made with sincerity and compassion and you can see it in all that they do. It’s comforting to know that some people really do care. If you would like to learn more visit


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Roots of a Dream

By Shannon Dunn
ASAP Africa Administrative Assistant
and Founder of R.E.D. Roots - Reaching Every Dream

Elizabeth Bara, Co-Founder of ASAP, recently received the Fall issue of the Portland State Magazine. It filled her with joy to see that her alma mata highlighted the work that she and her husband have been tirelessly pursuing in Zimbabwe since 1992.
The article brings to light the pure essence of what it means to have and believe in your dreams. Elizabeth was quoted as saying "I've always wanted to work toward positive change" and that is definitly what her life has been devoted towards. From changing lives in Africa to changing lives in America, Elizabeth is truly a model of leadership, determination, and hope.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


By: Memory Musabayana

Since 2004 Memory has been the Data Capture clerk for the Bridge The Gap (BTG) rural teacher training project ongoing in Zimbabwe. Although very familiar with the data and results the project is producing, recently she gained new insight and attended a BTG Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW). It was an eye opener for her and she submitted the following to share her experience.

"I was not aware that teaching is also a learning process, until I attended the Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW) at Rowa Training Centre in Mutare. The highly qualified proved that they were learned, but still needed to learn more from those with more experience.

During the past years the primary school teachers who were recruited for training, were trained irrespective of whether they had passed Mathematics. Most of the teachers did not have or had not passed Mathematics at Ordinary Level. This led to a decrease in the performance of mathematics both in primary schools and secondary schools.

Some important concepts in Mathematics are introduced at grade three level in primary schools. If the teacher is not good in Mathematics he/she will not be able to teach effectively the grade three students these new concepts. At the next level which is grade four, if the teacher is also not good enough the trend will continue until the student feels that it is better to drop Mathematics at ‘O’-Level.

The Zimbabwean Government has intervened through the MoESC. All teachers training at primary school level now have to have a pass in ‘O’ level Mathematics as a compulsory subject for recruitment.

At the ITTW teachers were surprised to learn that the teaching of Mathematics could be so inspiring when they were taught addition and subtraction through songs, multiplication can be done on one’s finger and learning direction through dance and songs. This was hilarious but informative.

A lecturer who was invited to facilitate, taught the teachers how to teach difficult subtraction to children using different methods. I realized that most teachers had a problem in this area as they were used to just one method. If students at grade three are introduced to a certain method and when at grade four their new teacher is not familiar with the method taught at grade three, he will teach a new method. If the pupil uses the method taught at grade three they will be marked wrong. This leads to a lot of confusion amongst pupils. Teachers should therefore learn all the concepts used in difficult subtraction."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hands on Atlanta Day helps ASAP Africa’s Partners for Literacy Project

Twelve 10th graders from the Religious Education Center (REC) volunteered to help sort and box books for ASAP Africa as part of Hands on Atlanta Day on October 7th. The books had been donated by Fayette Co. residents as part of ASAP Africa’s Partner’s for Literacy Project with the Peachtree City, Fayette Daybreak and Fayetteville Rotary Clubs.

Over 5,000 books were sorted and boxed is less than four hours – more than half of those donated so far. After the hard work, each volunteer was given a ONE Campaign wristband and each one is now part of the campaign to make poverty history. Please read more about the ONE Campaign.

The book drive is continuing through October and ASAP looks forward to working together with Ismaili Center Community of REC and the Youth Engaged Services again in the future.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Regai Tsunga's Newest Accomplishment

ASAP is always excited to see people reaching their highest potential especially when they are one of our very own. We are proud to announce that Regai Tsunga ASAP's Program Manager recently submitted his thesis for his Masters degree in Educational Planning and Administration to Zimbabwe Open University. Regai's thesis was based on the sources of job stress and stress coping strategies in schools. He will soon receive his degree classification and transcript. Congratulations on your achievements Regai!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kufusa Mari Sustainability Report

ASAP is implementing a new Kufusa Mari Internal Savings & Lending Project that is funded by The McKnight Foundation. The Savings and Lending program is a magnificent project that teaches the people of Zimbabwe financial skills that will be passed down for many generations to come. The skills obtained through participation in this project have proven to be life changing for most of its faithful participants.

The first Kufusa Mari Internal Savings & Lending Project began in October 2002 and ran through June 2004. This project was located in the rural Nyanga district of Zimbabwe (Nyanga East). Our second project ran from June 2004 through December 2005 in Nyanga West. The projects proved to be a great success and both are still active today even after ASAP's exit.

ASAP is proud to begin the new KM2 project. Our first activity was to conduct a sustainability report that provides critical information in ensuring the success of our newest endeavor. We are continually making strides towards "a world without poverty."

Click hereto veiew the report now.