Liverpool primary schools plan trip to Zimbabwe

LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom – CHILDREN as young as 10 are set to head for violence-racked Zimbabwe to improve their English.

Levels of violence have subsided due to a unity government between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition. 

The party of primary school pupils and teachers from three Liverpool schools are due to fly out to the volatile country for a “life-changing” trip in November.

The eight children, aged 10 and 11, who attend St Cleopas, in Dingle; St Hugh’s, in Wavertree; and St Patrick’s, in Toxteth; are due to spend a week lodging at Peter House, a boarding school in Marondera, around an hour away from the capital Harare.

Until March, the cholera-hit country was a Foreign Office no-go zone for tourists.

The visit complements the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms project, which the three schools are signed up to.

They have regular contact through email and webcams with three schools in Zimbabwe and three in Nigeria to share ideas, shatter stereotypes and brush up on their ICT skills.

Three Nigerian pupils and nine from Zimbabwe visited Liverpool earlier this year.

Now the pupils from Liverpool and Nigeria will spend a week as the guests of the three Zimbabwean schools, attending lessons, looking at areas of natural beauty and taking the odd elephant ride.

St Cleopas’ head teacher Ruth Frain said the visit was also an opportunity to learn from the hosts’ approaches to ICT, recycling and literacy in a country where 80% of people are literate.

She added: “We want to look at what we can learn from them, then use it when we teach English.”

 

Violence and torture have been prevalent in Zimbabwe since last year, when President Mugabe clung onto power.

Today, the Foreign Office said: “Isolated incidents of violence across the country remain. It could deteriorate further without warning.”

Ms Frain said the trip will only go ahead with the blessing of Liverpool council and the British Council.

Pupils would use private buses and stay in constant contact with parents via text messages.

The trip will be paid for by the British Council and through fund-raising.

Ms Frain added: “We will make every effort so the trip is completely secure and if there is any doubt at all, it will not go ahead.

“We are challenging perceptions and showing Zimbabwe is a good place and somewhere you can travel to.

“It will be life-changing. We want to mix with other cultures and build understanding, and the only way to do that is by experiencing it.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “Our advice would be to keep a low profile and exercise a high degree of caution.”