Trust Mutekwa

St Giles Special School, Harare, Zimbabwe

Trust  Mutekwa

Trust was born into a large family, the fifth of 12 children – and since he became a teacher, he has managed to inspire his younger siblings to do the same. Now a specialist teacher of children with visual impairment at St. Giles Special School in Harare, Zimbabwe, this is Trust’s nineteenth year as a teacher, and his eleventh year working with children who are disabled.

Trust’s outstanding contribution to the teaching profession has been in the effectiveness of his methods for teaching computer skills to students who are visually impaired. He has accomplished this by first teaching students how to play a traditional musical keyboard instrument called the Mbira. This preparatory study enables him to later introduce key features on the computer keyboard without the usual boredom or frustration. Students initially develop typing speed by competing amongst themselves, and the resultant keyboard mastery has acted as the gateway to more general computer skills – eventually Trust’s students can even solve computer problems that other teachers cannot. They also grow socially to become confident and independent, despite the obvious challenges posed by impairments.

Trust’s activity isn’t just confined to school: the Special Needs Department in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education regularly offers him a platform to present his approach as part of workshops and conferences for teachers; and he often goes on local television and radio to spread awareness of disability issues. He is also engaged by a hospital School of Nursing for their classes on working with blind people, and has an ongoing project to acquire much-needed computers, white canes and wheelchairs for people with disabilities.

Since 2016, Trust’s teaching has enabled four of his primary students to move to their chosen high schools – and among his previous students, there are six university graduates and six current undergraduates at various universities. His music students have even crossed borders and oceans with their music, performing at the World Children’s Festival in Washington DC in July 2015.

With the Global Teacher Prize funds, Trust will set aside money each year to develop projects in after school care, performing arts clubs, green solutions, entrepreneurship, and talent development. He would also use the funds to attend international conferences and travel to at least one country within Africa (or further afield) per year to share ideas and experiences with other schools or institutions. Finally, he would continue to support the Special Schools Arts Festival he founded to bring arts skills to special schools throughout the country.