Wednesday 16th September – School Visits
We visited 4 schools in Ward 11, Sanyati with the local councillor. He had prearranged the meetings so we were expected. We visited 3 Primary Schools and 1 Secondary School. All the schools have similarities but at the same time they were also very different. One thing that became clear at all the schools was the need for a reliable water source. All have wells but they would often dry up, particularly during the drier months – July – October. Often the children would not have water to drink or to wash their hands in. The lack of water also prevented or hindered other projects that could help the schools and the children. i.e Vegetable gardens and livestock.
The 3 primary schools also have an ECD (Early Childhood Development) block, preschool. The large class would be split it two, one group being taught inside while the other group were outside playing or learning under a tree, then they would swap.
Wozhele Primary School – 522 children / avg 45 per class. No electricity, the only school in Ward 11 without it. The 5 x blocks (2/3 classrooms per block) were in pretty good condition and they have reasonable furniture, chairs, tables etc. Their main priority is water and then electricity. They have a shortage of textbooks – 7-10 children sharing a book and a lack of sports equipment, uniform and facilities. They have 30 children living with a disability at the school, mentally and physically, they are given additional help. We met one boy who had learning difficulties, who since coming to school could now communicate and his self-confidence had grown. They have 60 Children in the ECD class.
77 of their children are classed as vulnerable – either orphans or affected by extreme poverty.
St Charles Primary School – 553 children, avg 40 per class. The 5 x blocks (2/3 classrooms per block) were ok but at least two have problems with the roofs, and one classroom we went into has holes in the roof –not ideal during the rainy season. They have major problems with the toilet blocks for the children, the ground has given away and they were unsafe but still having to be used until the new blocks have been built. Their main priority again was water, for drinking and washing but also for school projects such as vegetables and honey production, the profits of which would help the school fund some of the fees for the most vulnerable. The furniture in the classrooms was really poor, not enough tables and chairs and most children were crammed onto benches. One teachers chair was a frame covered by a cardboard box to make the seat. The school has been given some computers but they are not being used because they do not have the room to put them in. Again textbooks were at a shortage particularly in certain subjects. The ECD class has 73 children. 14 children have learning difficulties but they do not have any physically disabled as their facilities do not allow it – (something they want to change)
of their children are classed as vulnerable – either orphans or affected by extreme poverty.
Sanyati Baptist Primary School – 1071 children / avg class size 43 per class. By far the largest school we visited and their facilities were very good. But the size of the school brought its own problems, with a need for 8 new classrooms. We were told that in one block of 3 classrooms, 200 children were being taught at the same time. The school has just one working well for over 1000 children and they have to hand pump the water using an elephant pump – two handles being turned to pump the water up. As the water level falls it gets harder and harder to pump and it often dries up. Again there is a need for classroom furniture, text books and sports equipment. Their ECD class has 100 children, they have started to build a second block but do not have the funds to finish and put on the roof. They have a computer room but only have 10 computers being shared by all the children. They would love to build a special classroom for the disabled, we met one boy being pushed around in his wheelchair by a friend. They have a special vehicle for collecting & returning home the disabled students (from a project run by Leonard Cheshire). 220 of their children the classed as vulnerable – either orphans or affected by extreme poverty.
St Charles Sec School – 365 pupils / avg class size years 1-3 is 50, from year 4 its 37 (a drop due to children not being able to afford exam fees). The classroom blocks were pretty good, but some unfinished inside –i.e ceilings. Again water and electricity were a main priority. They had a borehole but it was not working when we visited and they were trying to fix it. They had electricity to the admin block but not in the classrooms and their backup generator was broken. They had a block specifically built for computers but the computers they were promised never arrived and also a science block with very little if no equipment. They have text books for the main subjects but not for additional subjects such as Agriculture, Economics, Accounts etc. They have one small printer for the whole school, which is unreliable and not up to the job of printing exam papers etc.
109 of their children the classed as vulnerable – either orphans or affected by extreme poverty and 3 are living with a disability.
The fees for going to Primary Schools is $12 per term & Secondary School is $50 per term, this is just for the education, books, pens, uniform and food is all additional.
This is just a brief outline of the 4 schools we visited, there is so much need it’s hard to know where to start.
We are waiting for the schools and the Councillor to arrange meetings for us with some of the more disadvantaged children & their parents/guardians from each school.