Mother Patrick and her Dominican Sisters initially focused on their primary duties in Salisbury of providing nursing care at the hospital. But in response to repeated requests from settlers and the Jesuits, in October 1892 the Sisters – who were primarily a teaching order to begin with – opened a convent (school). With two sisters and 10 students in a pole and dagga hut erected on the site where the central block of the Dominican Convent now stands, it was the first school in Salisbury, and one of the oldest schools in Southern Rhodesia. By the end of the year there were 15 children, and by the end of 1895 there were 38, only ten of whom were Catholic. Thus, the Sisters began the tradition in Rhodesia of providing education to all religious creeds, a tradition continued to this day.
The original pole and dagga hut served as the school until the first wing of a “proper brick Convent building” was completed in 1898. On the ground floor were classrooms and upstairs there were dormitories for the sisters and boarders. This building was replaced by the present Convent in 1970. The first headmistress was Sister Yolanda who was succeeded by Sister Canisia in 1901. As of that time enrolment totaled 33 boarders and 40 day students. The Chapel was built and opened in 1908, and the first permanent school building erected in 1930.
By 1949 enrolment had increased to 800 pupils, including boys. In 1940, boys transferred at the end of their Standard 4 to St. George’s Preparatory school (St. George’s College), and the younger boys were transferred to St. Albert’s in Avondale.
Today, Dominican Convent School (Harare) is made up of the Dominican Convent Early Child Development Centre (ECD), Dominican Convent Primary School and Dominican Convent High School. The high school has enrollment of 560 girls and over 50 teaching staff members.
- Mark Loomis