By Elizabeth Mtangadura
Sunshine Zimbabwe Project City and Guilds Centre is a vocational school that caters for but is not limited to, vocational education for individuals with special needs. It is a division of the Silver Linings Trust whose aim is to provide a suitable and positive environment for every stage of life in individuals who have physical and intellectual disabilities. We are a part of the larger community that aims to bring independence to such individuals.
Catch them young!
In 1995, The Silver Linings Trust established a school, situated at Hellenic Junior School. This school caters to preschoolers, primary and high students with special needs. These students have mild to moderate physical and intellectual disabilities. They get a chance to be a part of the Hellenic School community and take part in their activities including sports, clubs, etc. After completing high school or reaching the age of sixteen, the students faced a challenge where most of them had nowhere to go, this led to the birth of the vocational Centre in 2011.
Life after school
The vocational centre’s mission is to provide an active lifestyle, skills training, and work for adults with special needs. They can learn various life skills such as cooking, sewing, and gardening to encourage them to be as independent as they can be. They also work on various income-generating projects such as crafts made mainly from recycled materials and beads, dog biscuits, carpentry, and wiring for Electrosales. This allows the members to earn some money from the sale of the products produced from the various projects. With time, it became apparent that, although some members had intellectual and physical disabilities, they were capable of more; they could learn skills that would enable them to work and earn a living for themselves.
City and Guilds Courses- a perfect solution!
After realizing most courses offered by City and Guilds do not require any prior qualification except interest in the subject, the Centre had a solution for their members who were capable of doing more. City and Guilds is a world-class examination board offering internationally recognized qualifications, this means students can work or continue their studies anywhere in the world, a bonus for the ever migrating Zimbabweans.
Our ability to offer these courses to students with special needs was supported by City and Guilds who approved us as the only Centre in Southern Africa that is capable of offering their courses in a manner tailored to cater for individuals with intellectual disabilities. This means whilst the quality of the courses offered still meets the excellent City and Guilds standards; we have permission to submit videos and pictures as evidence that our students have mastered the skills taught. We also provide scribe services during examinations for students who struggle with reading and writing. This allows them to perform their best without any additional pressure of trying to write at a fast pace or figuring out the correct spellings.
We also have industry partners who assist us in giving students sheltered work placements in professional environments that allow them to gain on job training and experience a realistic day-to-day work life.
Opening a wider door
The concept of our City and Guilds Centre started as a viable option for our capable members from the vocational school but has now developed into a fully-fledged City and Guilds Centre which is not only limited to individuals with special needs. The City and Guilds courses are suitable for anyone and are a worthwhile option for studying towards a professional career. We now have students without any special needs joining us, creating healthy competition amongst our students who we encourage to give their best. Students can assist and build one another despite their varied intellectual capabilities, demonstrating that anyone can teach you something valuable despite their physical or mental condition.
Our Course Menu
Students who have completed courses in hospitality can conﬁdently work in their chosen department within the industry as they will be equipped to carry out several tasks effectively and efﬁciently. The students are assessed on their knowledge level via oral assessments as well as practical assessments and examinations for higher levels. We offer foundation and proficiency skills in Food Preparation, for Reception Services, we offer qualifications up to management level.
Skills taught include but are not limited to attending to enquiries, taking guest bookings, handling guest complaints, processing transactions, and creating an unforgettable ﬁrst and last impression. This course, though centred on hospitality reception, encompasses most ofﬁce tasks thus enabling the student to be relevant in any other reception. It covers all the major functions and roles of a receptionist and focuses on customer care which is the core responsibility of any business.
Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Under this course, students learn how to create effective and efficient designs for electricity usage. On the other hand, Electronic Engineering deals with using and controlling electrical power to interpret instruction and or perform the desired task. The Electrical & Electronic engineering course covers two separate fields – electrical and electronics. This is a great course for students fascinated by the science of electricity.
Motor Vehicle Systems
This vocational course imparts the skills and knowledge that can lead to a satisfying career in the motor vehicle industry, whether within a corporate organization or in the pursuit and set up of one’s garage. Lower level qualifications can be equated to skilled worker class 2 in Zimbabwe, while the higher levels are similar to skilled worker class 1. Successful candidates can work as artisans anywhere in the world. Weekend classes are available for those currently working as mechanics but do not hold any certification.
Today’s workplace is ruled by ICT’s and no one can afford to ignore them. This qualification provides basic level skills and knowledge that could lead to further education in IT or related areas. For those moving into their first job, the ITQ provides the confidence to work effectively with ICT and deal with routine tasks. These skills are not limited to use in the ICT industry but can be used across various industries and sectors. We also have a new and exciting course, Website Design and Development starting next year.
Looking to the future…
We are excited to be moving to our new campus in Greendale along Coronation Avenue next year, although we remain a part of Sunshine, we have outgrown the current premises and are looking to offer our students more than we do at the moment.
We are also actively looking for those willing to partner with us by providing professional work environments for industrial placements for our students in the fields of the above-mentioned courses. We also are seeking individuals or corporates who are interested in funding some of our students who are battling to pay school fees.
Images from Sunshine Zim
Originally published in the 120th Ndeipi Magazine