New mother Oranta is a volunteer teaching mentor for a Grade 4 class at a community school in Zambia's Southern Province. Although she's not a formally trained teacher, Oranta loves teaching children.
For five years now Oranta, 27, has relied on the Learning at Taonga Market distance education programme for teaching support. Each school day 42 learners, some in hand-me-down school uniforms and some in regular clothes, arrive from the local area by 1:00 pm for their school lessons.
The Taonga radio lessons are broadcast in the afternoon as children are needed to help their parents with farming, cattle herding or charcoal production in the morning. A local survey revealed that 95% of primary school children are engaged in some type of work to help the family. After the lesson, which is broadcast by the Chukuni Community Radio Station, the children stay behind and do homework as instructed by the excellent radio teacher, Mrs Musando. A workbook for teaching mentors supports Oranta in carrying out these exercises.
The school operates from Catholic church and each radio school class meets one right after the other. There's only one of our radios at this school - so far. The community is in the process of building a bricks and mortar classroom and we're in the process of donating additional radios. You might have noticed that Oranta has her young son on her back. No one seems to mind.
Please support teachers like Oranta. The Learning at Taonga Market programme not only educates children, but trains teachers as well.
For a change, we thought a video might inspire some of you to continue your commitment to educating children taking part in the Learning at Taonga Market distance programme. In this short video children participating in Taonga tell us in their own words why it means so much to them.
The Zambian Ministry of Education’s highly successful Learning at Taonga Market radio distance education programme – now in its 11th year – reaches hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children. The initiative delivers a high quality, basic education based on the Zambian national school curriculum. It uses effective interactive radio instruction (IRI) methodology and programmes are broadcast over community radio stations across Zambia.
Please share with your friends! The Lifeline Energy Team
Lifeline Energy’s CEO Kristine Pearson has just returned from visiting community schools in Zambia that use the Taonga Market radio education programme. The Hakalinda Community School in the Southern Province was just one of the country’s expanding community schools that received Prime radios. Hakalinda’s enrolment is only 120 children and Grades 4 and 5 and Grades 6 and 7 are combined. The nearest government primary school is six miles away and although primary education is free in Zambia, textbooks and uniforms for children are beyond many parents’ means. The teacher, Emmanuel, 28, does his best using the teaching workbooks provided by the ministry to instruct these youngsters of subsistence farmers and cattle herders. Until now this class didn’t have a radio. Each school day at 2:00 pm, 20 Grade 1 Hakalinda learners take their place. The Grade 1 children don’t seem to mind that they don’t have chairs, desks, a proper blackboard, or that their classroom is thatch and missing walls. Emmanuel isn’t actually a trained teacher. He’s what’s called a ‘mentor’ – a literate adult trained to use interactive radio instruction and to use radio as a teaching tool. Nonetheless, the children call him teacher, which makes him feel proud. Emmanuel was so thrilled to receive a Prime radio, saying that the radio would help him and the learners ‘so much’. Emmanuel is a volunteer and dreams of becoming a government school teacher. Serving as a mentor in the Taonga Market programme he says will give him knowledge, discipline and patience. Taonga lessons provide clear instructions to the teachers and pupils according to the Zambian national curriculum. The Taonga programmes are broadcast from the Jesuit-run Chikuni Mission Community Radio Station. With a footprint of 35 miles, it reaches all 11 community schools in the district, all of which are receiving our radios. Lifeline Energy has been providing radios to the Taonga Market programme for more than a decade. Were it not for communities who build classrooms, mentors and parents who volunteer their time and high-impact engaging radio school lessons, tens of thousands of Zambia children would miss out on an education. The Taonga learners thank you for your continued support of this unique educational initiative.
Shadreck Mulus, 33, is the father of a Taonga Market child. His son, Kenny, is four and started the radio distance education programme just over a year ago. Shadreck says he is grateful for the programme as it is the only way he could have educated his son. In fact Shandrek wasn’t able to finish school because his family couldn’t afford it. He says: “When I was a child I used to travel 20km to the closest school, but when I was 12 my parents had to stop me from going. Without the Taonga programme, I don’t know what I would have done for Kenny.”
As an educational tool Shadreck says the Taonga market programme is excellent: “It is a much better education than I received. We used to just listen to a teacher, which was very boring. With the radio, the children are very involved in the class. Kenny loves coming to school.”
Tall, well-spoken and smartly dressed in a grey blazer, Christopher Banda, 21, proudly tells me that he’s studying at a technical institute to become a procurement specialist. He credits his academic devotion to his ‘teacher’, Mwenya Mvula and the solid primary school education that he received from the Learning at Taonga Market interactive radio instruction (IRI) programme. The youngest of four children, he was raised in a Lusaka township by his mother, a domestic worker, who could not afford to send him to a government school. Despite primary education being free in Zambia, buying a uniform, books and other items were beyond her means.
Radio schools don’t require uniforms or books. Entering Taonga Market in Grade 3, Christopher said that learning for him was enjoyable and he still remembers the Taonga Market songs. A field trip to the international airport that Mr Mvula organized made a lasting impression because he met a pilot who had seen the world. Christopher added that Mr Mvula inspired him to study hard and to reach for his dreams.
Mr Mvula is not a qualified teacher. He’s a volunteer ‘mentor’ who has been trained in IRI methodology which actively guides teachers and learners through lessons on the radio. As one of the first Taonga Market mentors who started in the programme more than a decade ago, he estimates that nearly 90% of his students have gone on to secondary school. This is an exceptional achievement as a significant number of children were orphaned. Pupils in radio school, who at time learn under a tree, take the same exams as children in wealthier government schools.
I first met Mr Mvula in early 2007 when I visited community learning centres that used our radios. Despite it being just a 20-minute drive from central Lusaka, the ongoing cost of batteries to power a radio was too expensive for this impoverished township. The electrical poles were visible in the background, but they didn’t light up this part of town. At that time one of his classes met in a one-room house; another assembled on the grass in front of a maize field. Now they have small, dedicated classrooms. His enthusiasm for the programme, his pride in his work, and his love for the children were as palpable then as they are today.
The 46-year old Mr Mvula grew up in Katete, a farming village near the Mozambique border. In 1991 he headed to Lusaka to seek a better life and where he married Monica. They have six children and one grandchild. Mrs Mvula makes and sells chipati bread and sweets along the side of the road. Although he tutors students in the afternoon to earn income, sometimes parents can only afford to pay with vegetables or a chicken.
Mr Mvula has encouraged hundreds of young learners over years to strive for their dreams. He’s not giving up on his own dream either, to qualify as a teacher.
Support a Taonga Market classroom by donating a Prime radio!
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