Education for all.
Leaving no child behind.
Zambia is my birthplace, my homeland, a place where I have had powerful experiences, good and bad. Being raised in a country with such poverty, drought and difficulty brought me a deep awareness of my privileges and advantages in life. To express my gratitude and to offer back something to Zambia and its people I started a project in 2011 bringing a range of counselling skills and therapeutic understandings to teachers in different parts of the country, including Tujatane School near Simonga village. It is wonderful that the school is now self-sustaining in the core skills and competencies and my annual visit is now a supervisory one. Over the last nine years I have formed trusting relationships with many people, including Lawrence Kapelwa, Chair of Simonga Tourism Trust Board. Lawrence approached me in 2019 to see if there was any way I could offer support to a project they had initiated, to provide a school in a neighbouring community, Katubya. In March 2020 I visited Katubya and this is what I found.
Kids in Katubya
Getting to school is difficult for children in Katubya. Prior to Katubya Community School being started many children, some as young as 3 years old, were walking up to 7 kilometres each way to get to and from school. Now, no child needs to walk further than 3km. Walking such distances, although not uncommon in rural Zambian communities, is difficult when children are undernourished. Also, parents often need their children to stay at home to help with tasks necessary for the family’s survival. Consequently, many children didn’t to go to school at all, and many went intermittently. The closer proximity and the possibility of being fed at school, makes going to school more possible for families.
Katubya Community is part of Simonga Ward which is within Livingstone District in Southern Province, Zambia (Appendix 1). It lies just outside the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site which includes the Victoria Falls. This impoverished community is being given support from their neighbours in Simonga Village, who are only slightly less impoverished. Simonga has benefited from some development support over the years and in appreciation for that they have established the Simonga Tourism Trust whose aim is to establish self-motivated, self-sustaining projects in their village and in less fortunate villages, such as Katubya.
Katubya is a dispersed community of subsistence farmers; families struggling to make a living by growing crops and keeping cattle. When the crops fail, which they often do due to drought, the families survive by selling charcoal to local people so they can cook and keep warm.
Katubya Community School
Katubya Community School was opened to the public 13 May 2018. It is registered with the Ministry of Education who have provided some materials, such as tin roofing sheets. The letter from the department acknowledging the hardships in supporting the school is in Appendix 2.
The school follows the national curriculum for Zambia as best it can given its very poor resources. There are 78 children, aged 2-11 years, registered at the school at present. There are two classrooms but there are insufficient desks, chairs, paper, pencils or other basic materials. Apart from classrooms, there is a playground, made from local wood by a carpenter from Simonga village, 2 drop toilets and a bare sports area. The site includes a small hut and wash area available for Chief Sikute, should she wish to stay when making her annual visit to the area. There is no electricity and no running water. It is about a 1.5Km walk to the nearest water source.
The Headteacher Given Mutema, who lives in Simonga, is assisted by teaching assistants Mr. Simasiku and Mrs Silute. Mama Jase, who lives near the school is the cook. Currently, all work on a voluntary basis. There is a Parent Teacher Association and support and mentoring for this group is provided by Simonga Tourism Trust members.
To see video clips of the school and to hear Head teacher Given Mutema speaking got to Baobab Projects on YouTube or follow these links :
https://youtu.be/euMCdxEG-34 School site
https://youtu.be/JzMerqvfKng Original classroom
https://youtu.be/-HSowLi7CkY Second classroom
https://youtu.be/bdBcTM10DRc Children singing
From left to right: Given Mutema (Head teacher, resident in Simonga); Mrs Muyenga (Vice Chair, Parent Teacher Association, Katubya School) Oliver Kademuti (Vice Chair, Simonga Tourism Trust Board) Josephine Akatama (Committee member, Simonga Tourism Trust Board)
Mr. Hibajene, (Treasurer, Parent Teacher Association, Katubya School) Mr. Phiri (Chair, Parent Teacher Association, Katubya School)
Other PTA members not present: Mr. Ngenda, Mr. Kamwi, Mrs. Kawina
What do they need?
Just about everything!
Parents are asked to pay a fee of K10 (50p) per child per term. Last term no family was able to pay the fee. Drought=no crops=no income.
Despite their poverty, it is important that any support encourages the residents of Katubya to be self-responsible and self-sustaining, maintaining dignity and a belief in their own abilities. It is important too that the Ministry of Education maintains their responsibility for this fledgling school. For this reason, any support given comes with a for the community to create a forward plan for themselves.
What can be provided?
The first priority, both for the well-being of the children and to encourage parents to be able to release children for school, is to provide funds for a feeding programme.
Maheu, a fermented maize porridge, is given to the children on arrival at school as many will not have food at home. To facilitate learning in the afternoon it is hoped to provide lunch. This is most likely to be nshima and relish. See Appendix 3 for sample menu and costs.
In agreeing to try to raise funds I agreed two conditions with the Given, Head Teacher and the Simonga Tourism Board members.
First, that there is a commitment to use solar cookers only, n
ot charcoal for preparing food at school. See Appendix 4 for further information.
Second, that the PTA formulate a plan to fund the feeding programme themselves after two years.
So, raising as much as possible is the ideal, but as a minimum it would be good to raise funds for:
2 solar cookers
2 years’ feeding programme.
What should you do if you want to help?
If you would like to support the children in this school and this community please consider:
• Making a donation. Go to https://www.gofundme.com/katubya-school-feeding-programme
• Holding an event to raise money.
• Sharing this information about Katubya with others who might be willing to support in some way.
It is not possible to send materials to Katubya as the tax payable is prohibitive. Simonga village are awaiting permissions for a tax free postal arrangement. Once this is in place, sending materials will be more possible, although donating money is far more cost effective.
If you have further questions or if you want to let us know about a fund raising event please get in touch by emailing [email redacted]
Thank you for considering what support you may be able to offer these children and this community.
Sample menu and food costs
Maheu - fermented maize porridge
K200 - munkoyo
Nshima with relish, beans, greens or kapenta.
Nshima is the staple food in Zambia, a carbohydrate made from pounded maize cooked with water. It is normally served with local beans, or kapenta which is a small fish similar to whitebait or relish, which is made with tomato, onions and sometimes groundnuts.
K2,500 - 50kg bag of kapenta
K1200 - 8 x 25kg bags of mealie meal
K450 - beans
K480 - cabbage or pumpkin leaves
K200 - onions
K150 - tomatoes
K275 - ground nuts
K150 - cooking oil
K130 - salt
K220 - soya chunks
K100 - washing up liquid
Transport for food from Livingstone to Katubya K450
Money for the cook K300 per month
TOTAL - K6605 per month (£283.91)
Annual cost (based on 9 months school term per year) = £2555.19
For two years approximately £5110.38
Costs for producing 2 solar cookers not yet available.
These costs were accurate in March 2020. Since that time, fas a consequence of COVID 19 food costs have increased by as much as 25% for some foods. At the same time many of the people in this area have lost their jobs and there is no social security in Zambia.
On a positive note, the rains were good this year, so hopefully crops will be reasonable and this could bring the price of food down a little.
Traditionally, Zambians cook their food on an mbaula which uses charcoal as fuel, which increases deforestation. Most people cannot afford solar cookers.
As a separate project I have brought together a group of people in Simonga area to trial and produce solar cookers. They have found a design with which they are happy and will now make one from metal. This project will hopefully
provide affordable cookers and a business opportunity and some income for those involved in their production. Costs to produce the first two solar cookers will hope
fully be funded by this fund raising project.and these will cookers will be donated to the school.
DonationsSee top donations
- Jim Wynn
- Lee Smith