Education is the best gift anyone can give to a child. It is an essential right, which permits each person to learn and to blossom in life.The right to an education is vital for the economic, social and cultural development of all societies. However challenges emerge when the child is receiving his or her education in a dilapidated school environment or a situation where there is no building at all.
School children learning at Sinamusanga Secondary School and Njobola Primary School, in Binga, located in the Matabeleland Province, have a tale to tell about their learning environment. The schools are situated in the remote Chunga Lunga of Binga, lying along the hot and arid southern Zambezi Escarpment.
With both Schools established in 2012, the sight is still an eyesore even after 5 years of establishment. Njobola Primary School offers Early Childhood Development (ECD) A up to Grade 6 classes. It houses 205 pupils and has children learning in three thatched mud houses and a corrugated roof shade which does not protect them from winds, rains and dust. Sinamusanga Secondary School has 120 pupils of Form 1 to 4 classes. The pupils are learning in three small rooms built of mud and a semi-finished classroom block which the school and community of Sinamusanga have been building since 2012.
Keeper Mpendi who is the school head at Njobola Primary School highlights that the situation at his school is so bad to an extent that teachers shun away and look for better schools to work at in other areas in Zimbabwe.
“We do not have proper classrooms. We only use the mud rooms that the school and the community have built so that we shelter the pupils from the weather. Our pupils have their lessons sitting on the mud floor as we do not have furniture.
“The school only has three teachers because many teachers spurn us as they look for better schools with better infrastructure and this poor environment affects our student to teacher ratio. Our Teachers conduct their lessons sitting on bricks in the mud built classrooms,” he said.
The recommended student to teacher ratio in government schools is 1:35 per class but with Njobola Primary School they only have 3 male teachers for a total of 205pupils for the whole school from ECD A up to Grade 6.
Christine Siakachoma (15) who is doing her Form 3 at Sinamusanga Secondary School walks long distances to and from school. After a long and tiresome journey, one needs a comfortable place to learn in but for Christine and the other 119 pupils at her school, the situation is the opposite.
“I have to walk 13 kilometres to and from school every day in the scorching sun and sandy paths to reach my school only to come here and continue learning under the scorching sun. If we use the rooms built with mud , it is too hot for me to concentrate . Many times, I end up sleeping during lessons,” said Christine.
Christine, who is the first child in a family of five children, dreams of becoming a doctor one day. The possibility of her vision coming true is now certain as she is one of the beneficiaries of a partnership between ActionAid and The TzuXing Foundation from Taiwan in China. TzuXing is supporting the two schools by building classroom blocks to provide a better, safe and conducive learning condition for the pupils.
ActionAid and TzuXing Foundation representatives visited Binga in April 2017 and inspected the selected schools. The visit saw a ground-breaking ceremony at both schools where TzuXing donated US$200 000 with each school receiving US$100 000 towards the construction of the classroom blocks. The two schools are set to build a classroom block each, rehabilitate teacher quarters and purchase school furniture if costs allow.