NGO offers free weekend classes to boost O’ Level pass rates

By Promise Dube

Isibonelo Esihle, a non-governmental organisation, is helping students at Esikhoveni Secondary School improve their O’ Level exam performance by offering free weekend lessons.

Forgive Flames Sibanda, the project manager, explained that the trust was established in January 2020 by community members in Sikhoveni Village, Umzingwane District.

The idea originated with the founding trustees, Nkosilathi Zondo and Gertrude Moyo (a couple), who aimed to address consistently low student performance in O’ Level exams.

“The community voiced concerns about the school’s year-after-year poor performance in ZIMSEC public exams,” Sibanda said. “This led to the idea of offering weekend boarding from Friday to Sunday on selected weekends, essentially turning the school into a temporary boarding facility.”

“The weekend classes, which began in 2020, were paused due to COVID-19 but resumed afterwards,” Sibanda continued. “There are no fees for these classes, as the trust at Sikhoveni Secondary School covers all costs for Forms 3 and 4 students. Food and other needs are also provided by the trust.”

Sibanda reported that the pass rate increased from 15% in 2020 to 42% last year, and they aim to achieve further improvement. He added that some students even achieved excellent results with ten A’s and B’s.

However, Sibanda highlighted a challenge: “While the trust has helped over 40 students pass, including those retaking exams, many lack financial aid to continue their studies. It’s disheartening to see them unable to pursue college or A’ Levels due to financial constraints. We haven’t been able to sponsor any students beyond this program.”

“We often try to connect struggling students with other NGOs, but usually without success. Currently, we have about four students who still can’t proceed, including one who achieved straight A’s and B’s in ten subjects,” Sibanda said.

The organisation encourages others to replicate their efforts: “We are working on establishing a skills training centre in the Sikhoveni community to provide further training opportunities for these students. We also encourage other community members, wherever they are in the world, to uplift their communities in similar ways or others. We believe in expanding our operations throughout the district and eventually reaching the national level someday,” Sibanda concluded.

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