Tendai Chara – Extra Reporter

\n

In Geography, an oasis is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or any other water source.

\n

The Oasis Group of Colleges premises in Westlea, Harare, whose environment for students to attend lessons is not conducive for learning

The Oasis Group of Colleges premises in Westlea, Harare, whose environment for students to attend lessons is not conducive for learning

\n

Since time immemorial, the location of oases has been of great importance for trade and transport routes in desert areas.

\n

Those that travels in desert areas have to pass through oases so that supplies of water and food can be replenished.

\n

For travellers, reaching an oasis brings with it both abundant joy and hope.

\n

Although one educational institution elected to call itself an “oasis of knowledge”, it seems the adoption of that name failed to inspire its students to perform well in the November 2014 Zimbabwe Secondary Schools Examination Council ‘A’ Level examinations.

\n

Oasis Group of Colleges, which has branches in Murombedzi in Mashonaland West and Harare’s Westlea and Tynwald suburbs, is officially the country’s worst performing ‘A’ Level school, according to the November 2014 Zimsec results.

\n

In the released rankings, Oasis Group of Colleges anchors the table at position 501 with a 30,43 percent pass rate.

\n

The college’s 23 students that sat for the ‘A’ Level examinations recorded a dismal average subject of 1,043.

\n

Despite the dismal performance by its students, the private college still claims on its official website to be one of the “best learning institutions” in the country.

\n

“We have good pass rates, low teacher-to-pupil ratio, excellent learning facilities with very experienced, dedicated and qualified teachers . . . ” reads part of its mission statement

\n

The college further claims that it has a student code that ensures that the students are “highly” disciplined, an assertion which was contested by some Tynwald residents.

\n

Furthermore, the college claims to have an “open communication policy” with the students’ parents.

\n

Just like any other private colleges that are usually in the education sector for “business”, Oasis Group of Colleges gives a false impression.

\n

“We have unique academic programmes like one-on-one lessons, extra lessons and revision classes, either one-on-one or group classes. Fast track classes are also offered whereby the ZJC curriculum is covered in one year, Forms Three and Four in one year and Forms Five and Six over one year.”

\n

The college also claims to have e-learning, audio and visual learning and e-marking.

\n

A brief visit by The Sunday Mail Extra to the Oasis Group of Colleges’ “headquarters” in Harare’s Westlea suburb was good enough to unravel the reasons behind the college’s woeful performance.

\n

The environment in which the students attend their lessons is clearly not conducive for learning.

\n

Opposite the college premises is a church and when the news crew arrived at the college, congregants were conducting their mid-day service, distracting the nearby students in the process.

\n

Oasis Group of Colleges also share the same premises with a number of other business enterprises, among them a clothing factory, a hardware and a plumbing company.

\n

Noise from sewing machines greets the visitors while commuter omnibuses are repaired at the back of the building, further contributing to the noise pollution.

\n

Adjacent the college premises is a building housing the offices and garage of a bus company. The noise that emanates from the revving buses as they undergo repair makes it almost impossible for one to conduct an audible conversation.

\n

From the college’s reception area, a dimly-lit hallway leads to the college’s few, very small and badly-furnished classrooms.

\n

Visitors’ to the principal’s office will have to sit on two, old and cracking plastic chairs.

\n

Officials from the college tried to distance themselves from the Zimsec results, providing conflicting information in the process.

\n

The college’s principal, Mr Kaderere, said that although the Westlea branch is part of the group of colleges, it has nothing to do with the results that were released by Zimsec.

\n

“We are a group of colleges and we also have another branch at Murombedzi Growth Point. Students from this branch wrote their examinations at a centre in Dzivararasekwa and they excelled. The majority of our A-Level students got 13 and 14 points,” Mr Kaderere claimed.

\n

Mr Kaderere, however, failed to provide The Sunday Mail Extra with the name and other details of the examination centre at which the students sat for their examinations.

\n

The principal only indicated that the centre is situated “somewhere” in Dzivarasekwa.

\n

Sources said students from the Westlea branch are bussed to the Murombedzi branch where they sit for their Zimsec examinations.

\n

Another college official, Mr Mutemaringa, the group of colleges’ administrative manager, completely disassociated the Westlea branch from the other branches.

\n

“There are many colleges that are registered as Oasis Group of Colleges in Zimbabwe. Our students performed exceptionally well in the November 2014 ‘A’ Level examinations,” Mr Mutemaringa said.

\n

However, Ms Nicholette Dlamini, the Zimsec Public Relations manager, confirmed that only one centre — Centre Number 080838 — is registered as Oasis Group of Colleges.

\n

The centre is located in Mashonaland West and this is the same centre which is ranked lowest on the Zimsec rankings.

\n

The mushrooming of private colleges has often been a subject of intense debate.

\n

Oasis Group of Colleges charges US$160 per term for ‘O’ Levels and US$200 for ‘A’ Level students.

\n

Meanwhile, Plumtree High School, which is located in Mangwe district, Matebelaland South province, is the country’s second worst performing ‘A’ Level school after recording a 33,33 pass rate.

\n

The school recorded 100 percent pass rates in SiNdebele, Literature in English and History, but performed dismally in Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Geography and Accounts.

\n

Plumtree, a non-selective government-run institution, used to be a top-level school.

\n

It charges US$650 per term for boarders and US$150 for day scholars.

\n

The school, which has an enrolment of 200 students who are taught by 20 teachers, has a history of excelling in sports.

\n

Calls have been made for the relevant authorities to “name and shame” the country’s worst performing schools.

\n

According to those that are advocating for the publication of the worst performing schools, parents will be able to make informed decisions.