Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

For the Record, This Is Us Helping

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

For the Record, This Is Us Helping

Article excerpt

Byline: Hannah Flint Reporter

A TYNESIDE college is to fill a storage container with books, laptops and desks for a community school in Zimbabwe that has been left to deteriorate for decades.

South Tyneside College is aiming to pack a classroom into a huge storage container in a bid to inject new life into the Youth Contact Centre, Zimbabwe - a once thriving community school.

And once it arrives, the storage unit will be turned into a mini recording studio for the students of the school, based in the city of Bulawayo.

It is among steps being taken to return the centre, which was once a model of success boasting around 700 students - reduced to 40 after years of neglect - to former glory.

The push for used and discarded classroom items to be donated for the container, dubbed Project Salibonani Bulawayo, is being driven by South Tyneside College governor Les Watson, who taught at the Zimbabwian college 25 years ago.

He has appealed for old laptops, computers and books to be given to the appeal as people replace them with newer models at Christmas.

The governor, from West Boldon, was left shocked and emotional after returning to the school this summer to find a decrepit school in place of the once thriving community centre where he had worked for six weeks in 1989.

Les, 63, told of the "demise" of the school and spoke of how basic facilities, including toilets, were absent, while furniture and wall paint had not been updated for years.

He said: "When I taught there it was flourishing and well managed, with hundreds of students receiving vital education and getting real chances.

"But when I went back this year things had changed - there was no paint on the walls, no toilets and very little equipment."

He added: "I still get a bit emotional. …

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