This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs “Schools Around the World” blogging carnival hosted by The Educators’ Spin On It. Since I recently visited one of the closest schools to our current home, I thought I would write about this Zambian community school. What I am sharing here is what I heard from the headmaster of this particular school and may or may not be indicative of other community schools in Zambia.
We live in a forest reserve in rural Zambia that does not have any communities nearby. This community school is about an hour drive from our home. It serves 169 students in grades 1 to 7 with four volunteer teachers. There are no teacher salaries but some students will pay what they are able or will pay in kind with chickens and maize. Lessons are taught in Nyanja and English but there are over 70 languages spoken in Zambia. About three quarters of the students start school speaking and understanding Nyanja, the rest have to learn Nyanja at school, very few children start school understanding and/or speaking English. Students walk up to 8 km (5 miles) to get to school.
The school has three classrooms, many broken windows, one broken door and one door that has warped so badly that it is difficult to open and close. The blackboard is made out of cement that was at one point painted with blackboard paint. It has chipped over time and has become very difficult to write on. It needs to be replastered, polished and repainted to be of any use.
These are all the books the school has. The two piles in front with purple covers are music books. There are no musical instruments and there is no music teacher at this school. I didn’t go through all of the books but the tallest pile of books in the back left are workbooks that will be difficult to share between students or to reuse once they have been written in.
This is the water pump that services the school. It has been broken for two months and while it is out of commission students and teachers are getting their water from a nearby stream.
These are the pit latrines for the school. I visited during school holidays, the long grass will be slashed by the students when school opens again and the school ground will be cleared and cleaned.
Community schools are exactly what they sound like, schools that are formed and supported by local communities, often because government schools are too far for students to travel to. Some community schools receive funding and support from local or international NGOs and the Ministry of Education. Some receive nothing but the support they get from their communities.
Despite the lack of resources there are local people who are advocating for these schools and their students and who are doing the very best they can with what little they have.
Be sure to come back on September 19th for the link to the rest of the Schools Around the World posts or click over to Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes now for a look at schools in Puerto Rico.
Updated: Check out the other Schools Around the World posts at the Educator’s Spin On It!