Home » Education » Alumni Associations a Lifeline for Zim Schools

A couple of weeks ago I attended a high school basketball match between my former school and our fiercest rivals.

The game was full of action and went down to the final second, the rivals taking a narrow two point victory.

I have been out of high school for quite a number of years but that loss affected me the same way it did when I wore my school colours supporting from the stands.

The anticipation and emotion, the fervour on and off the court was exhilaratingly nostalgic. Had the headmaster of the school asked anything from me at that moment I would have dutifully obeyed.

A sense of loyalty, belonging and pride existed, one built over the six years in the corridors and classrooms which moulded me into the person I am today.

The feelings I had at that basketball match are evidence of the imprint left by my alma mater. An imprint which I’d like to believe many former students from schools around the country share.

Noticeable in conversations where one states “young man when at this school in my day we . . .” or “when I was in high school things were . . .” reminisces on the glory days when they were the fastest one on the school track or always number one in class.

How many schools take aantage of this impression they leave on students?

How many former students show appreciation to their home away from home during their adolescent years?

Is there a credible alumni culture in Zimbabwe? One of the things we pride ourselves on in Zimbabwe is our high literacy rate and it is certainly something to be proud of. Education is vital to human development and the ability to read and write is the first step in providing all citizens with skills to empower themselves. But that literacy rate and standard of education is under threat. Schools in our country are just not performing to their previous standard. Tough economic conditions have led to the exodus of teachers across the borders and overseas in search of the proverbial greener pastures.

The loss of teachers is not the only crisis affecting schools. Dilapidated buildings, worn out facilities, a shortage of textbooks and overcrowded classrooms are some of the problems plaguing our education system.

Surely we should not allow this situation to continue and should find viable and sustainable ways to help our schools.

One such way is alumni associations.

The world over alumni associations are integral parts of schools. These groups made up of former students contribute in various ways to their alma mater. This not only gives the school an alternative source of funds and resources but also builds and maintains a culture and tradition at the school.

Zimbabwean schools, particularly state schools, need to create alumni networks that can give them much needed support.

In this information age, this is not difficult to do as a whole web of people are only one Facebook group away.

Schools should feed off the nostalgia of former students. Those fond memories are a very powerful tool that can provide schools with much needed resources.

With an active alumni association schools can raise funds through a yearly membership fee as well as from financial donations from the alumni members. Schools can also organise events such as reunions or sporting events between former and current students to stir up old memories and create new ones for their alumni. Support can also happen in non-financial ways as alumni associations can provide mentorship to current students.

In this fast-paced age, textbook education is increasingly becoming insufficient in the so-called real world and providing students with mentors can provide a needed boost to individual growth.

Student alumni mentors could also be a source of inspiration, providing relatable stories of how someone sitting in your very classroom wearing the same blazer reached their goals after high school.

In mentoring students, alumni members could also be a source of inspiration. Rags to riches stories tend to be very popular and inspiring. Imagine how much better they would sound if you could envision this individual sitting in your desk, wearing the same blazer you did. Alumni associations’ beauty lies in the fact they do not only bring together former students but people with diverse skills who have gone into varying professions and careers. Such a melting pot can only foster enterprising ideas that can contribute to the development of our schools.

The difference between working with alumni and constantly appealing to the greater public or the government is that these former students have an attachment to the schools which will generally make them more willing to help.

Source : The Herald

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