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How an “unqualified” 27-year-old Zimbabwean teacher created a top tutoring academy on WhatsApp

Maxwell Chimedza says he doesn’t know how to use a computer, but his 32GB cellphone was all he needed to coach students in Zimbabwe.

“Honestly, I don’t know how to operate a computer. I’m a WhatsApp exam-refiner,” said Maxwell Chimedza. The 27-year-old preps students who are on the threshold of sitting for Zimbabwe’s ultra-competitive high school exams, the A-Levels. The tool of his trade? A Samsung Galaxy A10S cellphone with a modest 32GB of storage.

In 2021, Chimedza captured attention locally after his class of 64 WhatsApp students between them snagged 41 A-grade marks., ostensibly placing them in the same league with students from Zimbabwe’s expensive elite boarding schools. Up to 50,000 students across the southern African country sat for the A-Level examination in 2020.

Popularly known as “Dr. Maxx,” Chimedza operates from Mbare, which is the oldest township in the capital Harare, and one of the country’s poorest. “I’ll be clear,” he said, “I’m an unqualified teacher.”

Chimedza himself scooped 14 A-Level examination distinctions in 2012, but his family didn’t have the money to send him to university. Joining the 136,000 formal teachers in Zimbabwe requires a three-year degree.

 

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