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A man to remember: Philip Pazvakavambwa

  • 28 October 2020

In September we learned of the death of Philip Pazvakavambwa, headmaster of St Paul’s School in Musami, Zimbabwe. 

St Paul’s is Companions school to St Aloysius’ Junior School in Glasgow. Philip’s colleague Grame Madzivadondo shared with us Philip’s story as a great educator.

Born in 1975, Philip was one of ten children. Following school, he worked at the National Railways of Zimbabwe as a wages Clerk in the Civil Engineering Department. In the mid- 1990s he briefly became a prison officer. In 1997 Philip’s career path took a different direction when he decided to retrain as a teacher at Masvingo Teachers College, where he graduated in 1999.

His first teaching post set the stage for his future achievements. At Mukwenya Primary School in Guruve, both social justice and the environment influenced his role in extracurricular activities. He established an anti-Aids club and was instrumental in planting an orchard. His students also enjoyed much success in examinations.

Following the completion of his bachelor’s degree in Educational Administration, Planning and Policy Studies in 2007, Philip served in a number of different schools as depute head and headteacher. His work often included building projects. At Simoona Primary School in Bindura, he spearheaded an effort wherein parents provided eighty thousand bricks to build a classroom block with electricity. Later a third classroom was built and a toilet facility. 

Philip had long wanted to work in a Catholic School and in 2017 became the headteacher at St Paul’s Primary School in Musami. In a few short years, he accomplished much including, the construction of toilet facilities and a teacher’s house that is yet to be finished. He was a member of St Joseph Guild and he completed his Master of Science in Peace and Leadership recently. He was due to graduate at the end of this year.

Philip died on 10th of September 2020, after a lengthy illness. He was laid to rest in Muzarabani district, Machaya village. He is survived by wife, Stella Tandi and their four children. The eldest is pursuing a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Development, whilst the second eldest attends St Pauls Musami High School. The couples two youngest children attend their father’s school, St Pauls Musami Primary.

Lynette Nyathi of the Jesuit Education Office in Harare said, “Mr Pazvakavambwa was a reflective and principled school leader who left both the teaching and non-teaching staff at St Paul’s Musami Primary school more united and focused on child-centred interactive teaching and learning pedagogies. He promoted the school’s engagement with the community and parental involvement in the school’s development had increased substantially during his tenure as Head of the school. He was a true Ignatian leader who modelled the behaviour and values of St Paul’s Musami primary school to teachers, learners, and the whole school community. His presence will be sadly missed by all.”

The Jesuits in Britain have a long association with Musami. The Mission was established in 1923 and is located about 60 miles from Harare. Works there include St Paul’s parish, high school, primary school, the Pedro Arrupe Centre for the Disabled and the Musami Mission Hospital. It is also known for the Musami Martyrs. In February 1977, a group of three Jesuits and four Dominican Sisters were murdered at St Paul’s Mission in Zimbabwe (which was then Rhodesia) during the guerrilla war in Zimbabwe which followed independence.