Halcrow Foundation has supported two projects run by Zambia Orphans Aid (ZOA) in Zambia which help vulnerable children at school. These include providing school desks and funding the creation of a small-scale fish farm.
Zambia is one of the world’s most deprived countries, and it has also been affected by the rise in global poverty due to Covid-19. This is pushing even more people into extreme poverty and unable to meet their basic needs. Even before the pandemic, 58% of Zambians were living below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day compared to 41% across Sub-Saharan Africa [UNICEF].
The country has 1.2 million orphans and vulnerable children who live without the support or family structure they need to thrive. Many live in grandparent or child-headed households and get by on less than £1.50 a day. Without access to school, the children face a lifetime of poverty.
Providing desks at Twaywane Community School
Twavwane Community School provides an opportunity for orphans and vulnerable children living in Kabanana to access eduction. This is a very poor area of northern Lusaka where 90% of adults are illiterate and living in extreme poverty. A high proportion of malnourished and HIV positive children attend the school. Due to rising poverty and enormous local need, Twavwane, which was built in 2012, has grown to more than 600 pupils and class sizes used to exceed 100. Teachers had to fit all the children from Grades 1 to 9 into four classrooms which made it difficult for them to adequately support everyone. This had a big impact on the students’ learning, and as a result many fell behind and dropped out due to poor grades.
The school had clearly outgrown its existing facilities, and ZOA received a grant from another foundation to build two new classrooms. Its goal was to improve the quality of education for the children by reducing class sizes to 45 children per class. Halcrow Foundation supported the project further by funding new desks and benches for the students, as well as six teachers’ desks and chairs and six blackboards. The desks were built by local craftspeople and they give pupils space to write and concentrate more easily in lessons. One pupil, Abram, aged 14, said, “Before we weren’t learning comfortably because there were a lot of pupils and not enough desks. Some had to sit on the floor. Now we have many desks and the classroom is big.”
Improvements in learning
By reducing class sizes the teachers are able to increase the amount of time spent with each child, improving their learning and boosting exam results. Over time this will allow the school to attract more fee paying students who contribute towards the school’s costs, increasing sustainability. The new desks also mean pupils have space to open books and write properly, and their concentration is greatly improved as they no longer struggle for space.
Improving nutrition at a community school in Mazabuka District.
We also supported a ZOA project to build a small-scale fish farm at a community school in Mazabuka District in Zambia. Two large fishponds have been stocked with 3,500 fish, and these are used to provide high-protein food for the 636 orphans and vulnerable children attending the school. This improves the pupils’ education by boosting nutrition and reducing food insecurity in a drought-hit area. Excess stock is sold to the community, with profits spent on new fish and running costs for the next year.
About Zambia Orphans Aid
Zambia Orphans Aid is a UK-based charity that works with grassroots partners to educate the most vulnerable children in Zambia. It achieves this by providing uniforms, books and tuition fees and funding nutritious school meals. It also helps school leavers gain vocational qualifications, gives mental health support to those that need it and provides girls with reusable sanitary pads to keep them in the classroom.
You can find out more about the charity here.