With a strong focus on early childhood development (ECD), SOS Maizelands Kindergarten in Zimbabwe continues tirelessly to invest in young children. The school has 140 children (71 girls and 69 boys), five educators and five support staff.
In addition to the education activities that include storytelling and drawing, the children enjoyed indoor and outdoor playing time that is key to children’s emotional and physical development. They also participated in inter-class sports and infant competitions, that include bin bag races, 50 meters sprinting and shoe races.
Most of the children come from families that cannot afford to provide them with three meals a day. The school feeding programme offers two nutritious meals every day, which make a great difference to the children’s health.
Parents contribute with what they can to the kindergarten such as provide manure (gjødsel) for the garden, firewood for cooking children’s meals, and do maintenance work when needed. Recently, the pre-school renovated the sewer system to ensure effective waste disposal.
The termly parent-teacher meetings, to discuss the children’s performance continue to receive a good response. These one on one meetings have improved parents’ commitment to their children’s education. About 92 percent of caregivers with children at the early learning school attended the second term parent-teacher consultation.
To boost the learners’ wellbeing, the kindergarten still operates a mobile clinic in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. This partnership has boosted the poor health service delivery to the community, as it has extended its services to the parents. The mobile clinic day also provides a platform to share information on the welfare of the children and on good parenting.
Tadiwa goes to school for the first time
Poverty has ravaged the community around Maizelands pre-school for generations, and families face hunger every day. This lingering situation has caused parents not to prioritize their children’s education, as surviving is more important. Children attain the age of 10 years without ever being to school.
Having noted this sad trend, in March 2019, a team from SOS Maizelands embarked on an exercise, to identify children in the community not enrolled for early learning, due to financial constraints.
Tadiwa* was one of the twelve children identified. Tadiwa* had no hope of ever going to school, her mother works as a casual labourer in nearby farms, and she could not raise the 20 US dollars Tadiwa needed to pay one term of school, at the SOS Maizelands Kindergarten. Therefore, while her peers were in class, Tadiwa stayed home to clean the dishes and do other chores a six year old can handle.
“I want to go with you to school where my friends are,” she told the SOS team the day they met her.
In March, Tadiwa entered the Kindergarten “I enjoy playing outside with my friends, we sing and dance around together after break time,” Tadiwa says, obviously happy to be a part of the Kindergarten.
The intervention has encouraged Tadiwa’s mother to prioritize her daughter’s education, and work towards building her future.
Given that Tadiwa started school months and years after her peers, the educator gives her more attention, to ensure that she gets all the support she needs, to develop just as much as the other children. So far, Tadiwa has shown significant improvement, she knows how to colour her drawings, and to build structures using toys for indoor play. Tadiwa will realize her great potential as long as she remains in school.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.
Thank you Espira for supporting children’s right to education in Zimbabwe.