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A river runs through it: Living Waters Primary School joins ISASA

| August 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is an exciting time for ISASA as it continues to attract members from across the southern African region.

Living Waters Primary School (LW) is one of the newest primary schools to be welcomed into the ISASA fold. Principal George Gwarimbo says LW started as a nursery school in 1990 for children of expatriate workers working at the Nazarene Hospital in Manzini, Swaziland. It grew from being a nursery school to a fully-fledged primary school, because of the demand for quality education in the community.

“In 2012, the school advertised for a new principal. Due to God‘s grace, I was offered the job. I now work alongside 337 students, 23 fulltime teachers, two part-time educators, three drivers, four cleaners, two security officers and two office staff members.

“Our teachers hail from here in Swaziland, and further afield from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Our learner cohort includes children from Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria.”

Faith guides every endeavour

Gwarimbo dived straight in to solve the school’s transport challenges, which were literally delaying learning. “The school used a very old bus fleet and drivers were always arriving late with the learners because of breakdowns. We sold all the old buses and bought new ones, and now that problem is a thing of the past.”

When the new buses pull in, there’s the usual cheerful hubbub of noise as students greet each other and get to class. Then, says Gwarimbo, a blessed peace falls over the school during the teachers’ morning devotion at 07:30. All too quickly, it’s time for important announcements and assembly, then all classes begin with biblical studies. “This class is learnercentred,” observes Gwarimbo. “Learners take turns to pray and share the word of God with each other.”

Starting the day in a mindful way means that learners can apply themselves to a busy curriculum until 13:45. Then they scatter homewards. “The community in which our school is located is called Extension Six; a suburban area,” says Gwarimbo. “Some of our learners live in this generally affluent community.” LW coexists here happily with several public schools. According to Gwarimbo, the state of public schooling is “relatively commendable”.

“Our junior primary learners were invited last year to participate in an HIV/Aids awareness presentation at a public school in Moneni and we compete against both state and independent schools in interschool athletics fixtures, ball games and quiz competitions.”

Gwarimbo is passionate about LW’s consistent success – attributable, he says to its motivated teachers and a strong Christian ethos. “It is a church school owned by the Nazarene Christian Faith. As such, our learners are taught Christian values such as acceptance of others, love, care and the spirit of sharing. We also have an active Counselling, Guidance and Health Club to foster in all our students the importance of respect of the self and others in society.

Teachers in touch

“Our teachers encourage learners by offering extra lessons after school, and are in touch with parents as far as the child’s academic progress is concerned via a communication book that travels with each learner between home and school.” Gwarimbo adds that his insistence that all staff members wear a uniform that “suits their specific job descriptions” makes LW teachers feel like professionals. Moreover, “the successes we are most proud of as a school include teachers’ and learners’ enthusiasm about learning more about God, teacher punctuality and learner tolerance and honesty.”

ISASA a large and welcoming family

Gwarimbo has thought long and hard about the importance of independence. “To me, it means having the ability to explore new ideas freely for the betterment of our school.” His thinking was informed by the fact that most of the other schools in the area are independent and also members of ISASA. “We saw fit to join the same family,” explains Gwarimbo simply.

Embarking on this chosen path in late 2013 was “hectic”, he recalls, “because there were a lot of forms which needed to be completed. It was made bearable by ISASA regional director Lyn Nelson, who was always on the phone guiding us through the application process. She also came to inspect our school on 21 January 2014. Three weeks after that, she sent us an e-mail congratulating us on being part of the ISASA family, and we were very happy because this was the moment we were waiting for.”

What’s around the next bend?

Membership of ISASA means that life at Living Waters Primary School is busier than ever. Gwarimbo calls to mind the words of author Emma Smith:1 “Life is like a river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”

“So far, we are really enjoying our membership because we are participating in a lot of activities organised by ISASA, and are included in the sharing of information and ideas. We plan to build a high school in the next five years, which will also be a member of ISASA.”

Be it rapids or the calm of a Sunday stream, Gwarimbo is excited to see what lies around the next bend for this Swaziland school. His unshakeable faith and passion for quality schooling will guide him, he says, quoting another writer: “May what [we] do flow from [us] like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”2

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Category: Featured Articles, Spring 2014

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