Building a school one grade at a time in Zimbabwe
Founded in 2014, the Lesedi Primary School has been steadily growing year by year to cater to an increasing number of students and provide the children of the surrounding area with a quality education.
The Lesedi Primary School was started by a former Overseas Adventure Travel guide, Benson Siyawareva, as a way to give back to his community. Located more than 8 miles from the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Ntabayengwe village is situated adjacent to the Zambezi National Park and Jafuta Forest area, where human-wildlife conflict is rife. For many years this community has survived by raising cattle and subsistence farming.
Education opportunities were limited and kids often dropped out of school. Initially, the school comprised no more than a basic preschool structure and playground, built by Benson with mostly scavenged materials. When the preschool opened for registration in January 2014 it was a nervous moment: Only a handful of children turned up, accompanied by some curious and rather skeptical parents. The community expected the school would be “here today, gone tomorrow”.
Fast forward to the present day and mention of Lesedi Primary School creates a buzz of excitement. It is becoming known as a “center of excellence” within this rural area. An underlying sense of despair and lethargy within the community has been replaced by belief and optimism. Confidence is growing, both in the children and the adults.
Grand Circle Foundation began its partnership with the Lesedi Primary School in March, 2018, and has donated $39,853 to date. The initial funding provided some of the basics needed in every school, including a supply of both Mathematics & English exercise books, markers, pens, pencils, etc. for all 6 grades at this school. These are books for the children to do all their schoolwork in and this supply provided all books per child and teacher for all subjects for the year. The majority of parents are unable to afford exercise books for their children and the government no longer supplies these. Although families are not always able to pay school fees, no child is denied an education.
In 2017, the government introduced a new primary school curriculum. However, schools are not provided with the updated materials, and have to pay to receive it—something that Lesedi could not afford to do. GCF provided the required curriculum text books so students can be taught from the updated syllabus and will not be disadvantaged in national examinations.
Due to the poor economic state of Zimbabwe, government teachers often do not receive their monthly salary and are struggling to survive. As a result, many end up leaving their schools, or even the teaching profession, to pursue a more financially stable job. Parents have banded together to bring food for teachers to keep them from going hungry. With a sharp decrease in the number of teachers at schools, the quality of education and this generation of children of will suffer—something that is extremely difficult to reverse. To help combat this issue, GCF provided funding for a teacher’s salary for one year. While not sustainable as an ongoing commitment, this has made a significant difference to the students’ education for 2019 at least, until the economic situation is not so uncertain.
As the school’s enrollment and reputation grow, so too have its needs. GCF is committed to building a double classroom for the incoming Grade 6. The construction will be done in three phases starting with the slab (completed); the superstructure and the roofing (in progress); and then finally, the furniture. The local community has been assisting with general labor during the construction process.
You can help us complete the building in time for the 2020 school year by donating here.