£24 a year can change a life.
It really can.
It’s that simple.
Sending Kids to School in Zimbabwe… Background
Between January and July last year, I was working in Zimbabwe doing my PhD research which involved living in four rural villages in some of the most remote and forgotten areas of the country. In three of these, myself and my two Zimbabwean research assistants (now friends and colleagues) set up camp (literally) in the grounds of the local primary schools. We were not charged for staying, and both the teachers and the kids made us feel very welcome. We wanted to give something back to the schools and in talking to the teachers, and through my research, we discovered the desperate need for school fees in all three places. We realised how easy it would be to change some lives while we work on a bigger plan in the long run (watch this space!). A large number of children cannot afford to go to school but really, really want to. They either don’t go, or they go and risk being thrown out on a weekly basis. Their lack of ability to pay can be due to a number of factors. In each of these three villages, all residents are struggling with poverty. Harvests have been increasingly reduced due to bad rains and increased heat, minimising their chances of earning some money from the sale of crops. Additionally, many children are either orphans (of both or one parent), and/or live with sick and elderly relatives who cannot farm at the best of times.
We asked the Heads to write down the names of vulnerable children in the village either at school but at risk of being kicked out for not paying fees, or not in school because they cannot afford to be. We put their names in a hat and pulled out one for each of us. We transferred the money to the school account with the chosen child’s names included with each individual deposit, and voila, they were in school for a year. Easy as. I came back to the UK and people heard what we were doing, and wanted to do the same. I picked more names out of the hat, transferred money through MoneyGram to my friend in Zim, who collected it, took it to the bank and deposited it into the relevant school accounts with the students names. They go to school for the year. All for £24.
It was agreed with each Headmaster that as people came forward, a child would be selected and if that child was not in school, they would be allowed to start at the beginning of any term and would not have to wait until the new academic year starts (January).
Sending Kids to School in Zimbabwe… Why It Is Important
– In rural areas of Zimbabwe, many communities are struggling to live hand to mouth let alone be able to afford the fees to send their children to school
– When I asked them what development they wanted to see in their villages, schools and the ability for their children to go were almost always the first and top answers
– To send a child to primary school costs $30 a year, to secondary school $180
– By increasing the number of children in school not only are they getting an education, but the schools are receiving more funds and can afford better resources
– Not only is it difficult to afford fees for children to progress to secondary school, but there are very few secondary schools in a District. Children have to travel over 30kms a day by foot in some cases. Others have to pay to have a home stay in vicinity of the school
– The Government of Zimbabwe has just cut the amount of money being given to primary education which will affect millions of children.
We are also trying to raise money to fund the purchasing of bicycles to enable the kids to access schools further away, especially to move on from primary to secondary. Any donations towards this very welcome.