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Intwasa in Theatre in Education partnership

Hazel Sibanda is a Mpopoma High School alumni. She is currently waiting for a response from Law School at the University of Zimbabwe while helping other kids in her former school understand what it takes to pass with flying colours.Her former Literature teacher, Alistair Mangoro, beams with pride when he talks about her achievement after scoring an A in her final Advanced Level examination.
But even more interesting is the fact that Sibanda was last year winner of the Plan International-organised Best Actress award in the High Schools drama competition hosted in partnership with the Intwasa Arts Festival.
The performance that won her the award is the one she played the role of Tsidi, one of the protagonists in Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and The Jewel.
Now, Sibanda is being showcased as a sign of success for the Intwasa Arts Festival which is partnering with the Center for Talent Development project in running a pre-festival build up initiative that will see the staging of Ordinary and Advanced Level set books in theatre productions from July 3, 2013.
The books concerned are The Lion and The Jewel, A Doll’s House and A Song of Lawino and Song Of Okollo. The last two happen to be Literature set books at Advanced Level and the former is an Ordinary Level English Literature set book.
“Intwasa is just helping as a partner within the project but it’s the brainchild of the Centre for Talent Development which has been running for three years,” said Raisedon Baya, the Intwasa Arts Festival director in a telephone interview with this paper.
“It’s basically self-funded and it involves me and Thabani Moyo as trainers. We have 13 young people. Half of them are still in school (Evelin High, Mpopoma and Mandwandwe). Others are former students of Bulawayo Seventh-Day Secondary School, Sobukhazi and Mzilikazi. As artists, our reasoning for the theatre in schools project is that we have been advocating for the arts to be adopted into the school curriculum and thankfully the ministry now has a policy to that effect. So we had to identify an entry point, such things that schools can see will help the kids in their studies. Our idea is that we are not taking kids from education but we are actually enhancing their education. So it’s synergistic,” said Baya.
“To that end, the first week of July at the Bulawayo Theatre, we are hosting these productions to target school children to help them get a better understanding of the set books. Rather than just remembering lines, putting a visual to it makes the books more memorable and definitely that impacts wonderfully on the learners’ grasp of their material come exam time.”
“We also have the high school literature live festival project. The idea is that the festival moves from province to province.”
How much the theatre in education project benefits students can arguably be best typified in the achievement of the likes of Siba-nda.
Obviously, for a pupil to pass literature, or any subject for that matter, it takes more than a drama show. The school and the students’ own hard work is vital. But the contribution of projects such as the one Intwasa and partners is launching for exam candidates in July will go some way in positively enabling pupils to anchor their reading of literature texts.