Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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Resilient Copota withstands adversity

 

Moses Ziyambi

The Margaretha
Hugo Schools and Workshops are soldiering on against immense adversity to
continuously improve the conditions of people with disabilities and deliver
some tangible results, TellZim News can report.

Popularly known
as Copota, the school has made a success of many blind children who otherwise would
probably have had no chance of attaining formal education.

The institution
was registered as a school in 1927 by the then Dutch Reformed Church evangelists Rev Hugo and his wife Margaretha when the country was still known by its
colonial name Southern Rhodesia.

Now controlled
by the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ), the institution hosts primary and
secondary schools as well as workshops where some remarkable crafts and
carpentry work is done.

“Our enrollment
currently stands at 300 pupils; 160 of them in primary and 140 in secondary. At
the moment, however, only 65 Grade 7 and Form 4 pupils preparing for their
final exams are here while the rest are at home in keeping with the Covid-19
induced phased reopening of school,” said secondary school head Alfred Madamombe
during a recent tour of the school organised by Hevoi FM.

He said he was
pleased by the achievements that the institution continued to register in spite
of the seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Copota also
makes effort to give after-school assistance and support for children who
demonstrate potential in business and agriculture.

“We strive to
give post-school support and capacitation so that our pupils do not become
desperate school leavers without any chance of success. In Mashava and Chivi,
we have helped some of our former pupils with albinism to set-up tuckshops
while others have been helped to set-up small drip irrigation facilities and
they are all doing fairly well.

“The idea is to
make sure that people with disabilities can have some dignity of being able to
provide for themselves and others,” said primary school head Clever Madzokere.

During the early
phases of the lockdown, he said, they drove far and wide delivering food
parcels to some of their pupils in areas as far away as Chisumbanje and Kwekwe.

The institution
also has a Braille workshop with such equipment as an imposer, Perkins printers
and an out-of-service guillotine.

The workshop produces
books and caters for other reading materials for pupils.

By transcribing
large volumes of cited text into Braille, the workshop also handles the reading
material requirements of the Reformed Church University (RCU), which is a
sister institution, and other institutions offering special needs education.

Challenges
include lack of funding which has resulted in some equipment including the
guillotine breaking down without repair. In spite of that, there is an
impressive improvisation which has seen optimum services being maintained using
the same outdated equipment and methods.

“We have many
challenges but we are grateful for what we have. The economic challenges in the
country affect everybody but we are pleased that we are moving forward to do
what we love to do; providing education to children with vision impairment,”
said workshop manager Ernest Dube.

Dube, who
himself got educated at Copota and began working in the workshop in 1980, said
there was a limited supply of Braillon paper and the ordinary Braille writing
paper, that are all imported mostly from Europe and Asia.

The Helene Hugo Hall is named after Margaretha’s daughter 

TellZimNewshttps://tellzim.com
TellZim News is the leading news organization in the Southern region. It provides candid, balanced and timely news from the communities. Keeping it real. Committed to tell Zimbabwe.

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