Conditions in rural Zimbabwe provide teachers with countless challenges. School fees are in the region of US$60.00-US$100.00 per child per annum, from which each school is expected to provide a safe sanctuary, good education with qualified personnel and suitable educational materials. This situation is further exacerbated with most parents, as subsistence farmers in drought ridden areas, unable to pay the fees and levies for their child or children to attend school, battling even to put food on the table.
In an effort to help rural schools retain both qualified and temporary staff, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Zambezi, in collaboration with long-term donor Suzanne Wright and the El Hefni Foundation (USA), have embarked on a monthly incentive programme to help pay teacher wages. The monthly incentive programme provides a monthly wage to the teachers who also double up as CITW Eco-Club Mentors. The programme also pays full salaries for Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers in selected schools. Although ECD classes are a government requirement, the ECD teacher’s wages are not funded by the government.
This is obviously not a sustainable long term solution and we certainly need to get to a point where the schools are able to support themselves, but the wage incentive programme has certainly helped retain teachers and halt the huge staff turnover. The best case scenario, and certainly the more sustainable option for the future, would be to increase number of students on scholarships – the benefit is twofold in that it not only ensures students receive an education, but schools also receive a regular income of fees which in turn empowers them to manage their own affairs, as well as taking some of the pressure off CITW.
Allow us to introduce you to some of the teachers that are currently supported by CITW with assistance from El Hefni:
Charity Nyoni, Jabulani Primary School Victoria Falls Zimbabwe – No formal qualifications but is currently studying a Diploma in Education and is expected to qualify later this year. Personal Quote: “For me CITW has really influenced my approach to teaching, We go on teacher training courses which make such a difference especially for us unqualified teachers, it gives us confidence”.
Sibanda Baknani, Mpindo Primary School, Tsholotsho Zimbabwe – Holds a Diploma in Education Planning and Policy Studies. Personal Quote: “Through CITW, teachers are equipped to provide the relevant interactive education in relation to environmental and conservation management. We live and depend on nature”.
Hlengiwe Moyo, Kapane Secondary School Tsholotsho Zimbabwe – Has her O Level Certification and teaches fashion & fabrics. Personal Quote: CITW has encouraged a good attitude towards education in our community; good role models for an improved future. Great models like CITW provide quality education and support which is our key to a better life”
Jacqueline Tarara, St Mary’s Primary School, Hwange Zimbabwe – Has a Diploma in Primary Education and has been teaching for 10yrs. Personal Quote: “CITW is helping a lot as it meets environmental education curriculum objectives by giving pupils hands on experiences rather than theory. Also it empowers students to find solutions to local ecological and conservation problems. A healthy environment nurtures life and builds wise minds”.
Mqanjelwa Nyathi, Jabulani Primary School, Victoria Falls Zimbabwe – Holds a Diploma in Education and has been teaching for 12years. He aspires to study further and get a degree in Mathematics. Personal Quote: “I am motivated to wake up every day to teach, interact and impart knowledge to the students because I know we have CITW out there putting in an effort to also help the children in rural schools.”
Sifelani Ndlovu, Ngamo Primary School, Tsholotsho Zimbabwe – Holds a Diploma in Primary Education and has been teaching for 6yrs. Personal Quote: “Through CITW, I have learned about the diversity of culture, community and the environment. Through this knowledge I aspire to be a well-respected trainer in the community. I want to help improve the living standards of the Zimbabwean people, whilst protecting and conserving the valuable resources we have here and around the world’’
Sihlesenkosi Mzacana, Jakalasi Primary School, Tsholotsho Zimbabwe – Holds a Degree in Education Planning and Policy Studies, and has been teaching for 21yrs. Personal Quote: “CITW has helped me widen my teaching experience and provides basics that are useful in both teaching and managing the environment. It further helps children’s wellbeing and uplifts education. I aspire to be the Zimbabwe Education standards officer, ensuring that CITW Eco-Club curriculums are implemented country wide”.
Tshuma Samkealiso, Kapane Primary School Tsholotsho Zimbabwe – Holds a Diploma in Primary Education and has been teaching for 12yrs. Personal Quote: “Through CITW, I have learnt a lot. We have had more training which helps my career and improves my teaching skills. My teaching has had a positive impact on the children and I am confident in all the knowledge I impart. CITW has also taught us that conserving nature and transferring that knowledge to the pupils is the only sure way to save the planet”.
Eldah Zinyuke, Jabulani Primary School Victoria Falls Zimbabwe – Holds a Diploma in Education and has been teaching for 3yrs. Personal Quote: “Being part of CITW means a lot to the teachers and children, as we have support and learning materials; we teachers and the students can now concentrate on our work. It is up to us teachers to use the skills we have, to inspire and teach as many children as we can to build up Zimbabwe”.