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What I learnt this morning in Matiwe village on International Literacy Day

September 10th, 2014 by Posted in Countries, Education, English, Women's rights, Zambia

Misozi Tembo: Media and Communications Coordinator, Zambia

 Kapui Mubuyeata. Photo Credit: Misozi Tembo

Kapui Mubuyeata. Photo Credit: Misozi Tembo

Early this morning, as I was filming at a community school in Matiwe Community, Nalikwanda Constituency 35 Kms from Mongu Town, Western Zambia, I came face to face with Inequality.

I learnt that the parents of children at this school fail to pay a maintenance fee of ZMK1 (US$ 0.16) because they simply can’t afford it.

I learnt that in rural communities, girls start Grade One very late ( 12 or 13 years old) because when they are younger, they fail to walk a distance of over 20 Kilometres and parents worry about their safety as they have to use a dangerous route through the bush or plains.
I already knew that having clean water at a school reduces waterborne diseases and increases class attendance particularly for the girls. What I didn’t know is that most of the children go without food and coming to school to at least drink clean water is also a motivation.

Today was the beginning of Term three and 40 out of 106 pupils showed up. They were in awe of their new classrooms and every excited to sit on desks for the first time. When we sat down to chat, I began by asking very simple questions to open them up but only two put their hands up. I didn’t understand. I decided to take them outside hoping they‘d relax. They did a little but they were still oddly withdrawn. I was at a loss. Then I asked one of them through my Lozi interpreter what was wrong. And 13 year old Kapui Mubuyaeta almost apologetically said, “it’s hard to talk or play when you are hungry. We are hungry”. I asked him when he last ate, he said two days ago. I learnt that most children in this area go without food for days because their parents or guardians are poor and unable to farm due to the fact that the land is too sandy and infertile.

 Mate Silishebo (left) and Naena Munimi. Photo Credit: Misozi Tembo

Mate Silishebo (left) and Naena Munimi. Photo Credit: Misozi Tembo

I also meet a very smart girl who is preparing to write her Grade 9 exam in November. Her parents had sent her to Mongu Town to live with her married female cousin in order to access secondary school education. Unfortunately, her brother in law used to sexually molest her and parents brought her back to the village. This has left her traumatised and ill. When I asked her what she wants to do after school, she said, “I want to be a police officer”. I can only imagine the reason.

Inequality remains a major impediment to human development. Why do a few have excess and the majority live in abject poverty? We have become aggressive consumers with little thought about the well being of our communities, in this case, the next generation. We need to stop and think about what we can do beyond our families. What we can do for the children in villages who just need food, water, books, pens and protection. What can you and I do to ensure that children in Africa – our children get a quality and equitable education?

Oxfam in partnership with Young Women’s Christian The International Women’s Leadership Association (YWCA) supported the construction of a Borehole, 1X4 Classroom Block, 1X2 Semi Detached Teachers’ houses, and VIP Latrines for Girls, Boys and Teachers.

  1. One Response to “What I learnt this morning in Matiwe village on International Literacy Day”

  2. By Nellie Nyang'wa on Sep 12, 2014

    Thanks Misozi, just brings the ills of inequality into the practical space. Why should a child or a girl fail to achieve their dream because they happen to be born in a wrong place where schools were too far and where insecurty and violence robe the girls of their future? Thats the reason why I love my work and I think Oxfam is doing the right thing, fighting this injustice. We need to tell more of such stories

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