A historic team of Zimbabwean high school students who became world and European champions of moot court competition have been widely praised in a country where the education system is beset by underfunding, lack of materials and strikes. of teachers.
The 11-member Zimbabwean team, nine girls and two boys aged between 14 and 18 and hailing from different schools, were crowned world champions last month after winning the international High School Moot Court competition held online at the end of the year. of May. A team from New York City came second in the competition in which participants used fictitious cases to simulate proceedings in the courtrooms of the International Criminal Court.
Zimbabwe have now also been crowned European champions after beating the Netherlands in the final of the European Moot Contest for high school students on July 3. It was the first time that Zimbabwe had competed in both prestigious events.
European competition organizers were so impressed with Zimbabwe’s performance at the international High School Moot Court competition that they invited the team to be the first African country to participate in their competition, team captain Ruvimbo Simbi said.
“It’s surreal and extraordinary,” Simbi said after returning from Romania, where the European competition was held.
“When we were at the European Moot Court, a lot of people didn’t even know about Zimbabwe. We put Zimbabwe on the map, letting the world know about the incredible talent found in this country,” said Simbi.
The president of the southern African country, Emmerson Mnangagwa, invited the team to his official residence in June and presented them with $30,000 in cash after their victory in the high school competition. He described the latest victory as “another victory for the pride of Zimbabwe”.
The European Union delegation in Zimbabwe has also congratulated the team.
The winning team received an enthusiastic reception from hordes of schoolchildren, parents and supporters when they returned last week. The usually quiet airport was filled with cheers, song and dance as the team arrived displaying their awards. The team received a red carpet welcome, flowers and balloons. Some carried banners that read “Welcome Champions.” Others played drums and marimba, a traditional wooden bar instrument played with mallets.
When Zimbabwe achieved independence and majority rule in 1980, the new government vigorously expanded the country’s education system so that all black children could attend primary and secondary school. Previously, the educational system catered mainly to the country’s white minority. Zimbabwe achieved one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.
But in recent years, the country’s debilitating economic woes have seen its education system deteriorate, characterized by dilapidated infrastructure, shortages of key learning materials such as books, and frequent pay strikes by teachers.
Despite these problems, the Zimbabwean education system still ranks highly in Africa.
Victories in international moot court events “mean a lot to us Zimbabwean educators,” said Kudzai Mutsure, principal of Dominican Convent, an all-girls Catholic school in Harare, where some of the team members are enrolled.
“We take academic, sports and cultural activities very seriously,” Mutsure said. “A student can thrive in one of those areas.”
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