The Importance of Investment in Education for ALL Children

My father-in-law forwarded me Nicholas Kristof’s most recent Opinion piece in the times – entitled These Kids Could Tutor World Leaders.  It’s a passionate piece about the importance of the investment of education, highlighting the millions of students who are still left out of the education system.

It’s a piece that has been written before, with different words and phrases.  And while reading about various schools in the Central African Republic it felt like I could have been reading about our schools in Zambia.  Kristof writes:

This remote village doesn’t have an official school, and there’s no functioning government to build one. So the villagers, desperate to improve their children’s lives, used branches and leaves to construct their own dirt-floor schoolhouse.

It has no electricity, windows or desks, and it doesn’t keep out rain or beetles, but it does imbue hope, discipline and dreams. The 90 pupils sitting on bamboo benches could tutor world leaders about the importance of education — even if the kids struggle with the most basic challenges.

This was the situation that led Impact Network to start our first school, in Joel Village, a decade ago.  Our communities would come together, provide a volunteer teacher, a space to learn, and whatever resources they could muster.  And as we continued to work in community schools, it’s a situation we’ve faced time and time again – dedication and potential, in some of the toughest conditions I’ve seen. From that first school in Joel we’ve grown to over 40, encompassing 5,000 students just like the 90 in Kristof’s articles.

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Above: One of our early schools that was operating out of a church before we built a new structure.

Perhaps even more telling, is the commitment that our teachers have shown each day, to help their scholars, to improve their own skills, and to enhance the villages that we serve.  On a recent trip to Zambia, I caught Petros in one of the classrooms in Joel on a Saturday.  Petros was one of our first teachers; I remember seeing him teach first graders at Kanyelele Community School on my first trip to Zambia in 2011.  Since then, Petros went on to be the Teacher in Charge at Kanyelele and eventually a Teacher Supervisor for Grades 3-4 across all of Katete West.  This is all to say, Petros doesn’t have classroom responsibilities anymore and he doesn’t teach students directly.  But on this particular Saturday, I happened to walk in and see him with about a dozen first-graders.  When I asked what he was doing, he said that the kids had shown up, and so, he was teaching them.  It was a small thing to him perhaps – but it spoke volumes to me about the commitment that he and his fellow staff members have to our students and parents.

The full article is here:

-Reshma