Today I had a wonderful time back at school! I attended classes from grade1 to grade 7 at PIZZ school with the sole exception of grade 3 where a new teacher is awaited.
I was very impressed by the way in which the lessons were conducted. The limited number of textbooks means that much of the work is done using the traditional blackboard and chalk. The children are very attentive and are enthusiastic. I was surprised how much of the lesson for the grade 1 students was in English. I don't know how I would cope if I had to learn my lessons in a foreign language. Even after spending more than 2 years in Zambia my Chitonga is negligible – to my great shame..
The grade 1 students were learning about shapes as part of the mathematics curriculum. I was impressed by the way the teacher praised and encouraged the children. These children come from very disadvantaged backgrounds and most are unlikely to have had any previous exposure to English. I felt privileged to be part of a project which gives them the possibility to move away from a life of poverty. It is also a huge responsibility. These children need our support so that they are not given a false hope.
In grade 2 they were talking about birthdays when I joined them. I shared that my daughter has her birthday today, so they each drew a birthday card for Barby in their notebooks.
In grade 4 the class was also doing maths. They were learning how to calculate the cost of common items of shopping – I now know why everyone here has no problem calculating my bill and providing change. (Unlike my experience in the UK where the cashiers seem to rely totally on the till.)
In grade 5 they were being taught English, concentrating on proper nouns, and in grade 6 the subject was science - the topic evaporation and condensation. Here a small experiment was done with with a kettle and bottle of cold water.
My final class was grade 7. This is the first stage were an examination is taken to determine whether the child progresses to the next grade. These students sit their exams at the end of the month and were doing revision with the teacher. A girl read a story from a textbook about a university student who had been ill and had just tested HIV+. Of course for many their situation has come about because of the disease, but the subject is not kept hidden in Zambia. I was welcomed by the children reciting poems and at the end of the lesson some of the students introduced themselves. Most were being brought up by their grandmothers and three of them said that they had lost both parents by the age of 8 or 9. Unfortunately this is a very common story among these children.
Being with the children and teachers brought home to me just how important this project is for the future of so many. It is being among them and glimpsing some of their potential that brings the project to life for me.
Funding is always a problem when the students cannot afford to pay fees. The past year has been difficult and yet my experience today showed me that, despite limited resources, wonderful things are happening.
The children ended by pleading for continued support and I am sure you will continue to be generous.
Mrs Sianga writes:
"The school opened on 2nd January 2012 for the first term and 30th April for the second term. When the school opened in January, we had 214 pupils altogether both lower and upper basic; we also have seven teachers and one general worker at the old school and five upper basic teachers with two general workers respectively.
Currently, the school is sponsoring 5 children who are in high schools, two are at Namwala secondary school and the other three at Monze Secondary School.”
Most of these 219 children would be receiving no education without PIZZ School, where they are accepted despite not being able to pay any fees.
Last year a fence was erected around the school and this has allowed 150 trees to be planted within the grounds. This has improved the environment for both the children and staff.
The football field is being well used and PIZZ school won 3 out of 4 games within the District. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, they were unable to progress to the “Zonal games”. Maybe next time they will be ableto move further with the competition.
A small grant enabled some of the children to receive some food (bread and tea) during May. It is the aim to be able to provide a little food on a regular basis, if funds can be found. The reality is that many of the children come to school hungry and find it difficult to concentrate on their studies as a result.
At the beginning of the year a HATW Volunteer – Deana – visited Monze and spent some time at the school. Deana was able to work with some of the children after school. Some of the work they produced is shown withthis report. There is usually little chance for the children to express themselves artistically, so it was with great delight that they took the opportunity to paint and draw.
I will be traveling back to Monze in September and will spend some time at the school. It is always a delight to meet the children who are so full of life and to experience their enthusiastic greetings! They are so appreciative of the opportunities they have, as a result of the funds we provide, with your help. I only wish that we could do more to improve their chances.
Every penny gives hope. These children now have the possibility of achieving their potential. Thank you for your support, it is making a real difference.
It is heartening to hear how well the students are doing despite all the difficulties they face. The school playing field is in very regular use for football games – formal and informal, with some of the local youth enjoying the facilities with the students. The girls join in the football as well as playing netball. The field has also been recently used for a school sports day.Deana, one of the Hands Around the World volunteers, is in Monze at the moment and has been assisting with some of the English classes. A retired Health Visitor from the UK Deana is working with health workers in the community around Monze, but has also found time to run some after-school activities at PIZZ. She has helped some of the children to develop their skills in sewing and has engaged them in various craft activities. She says that the children usually have little time to become involved in less academic activities at the school. So she has been able to provide a bit of extra stimulus. She also organised a visit from the hospital Peer Educators who teach the children about AIDS prevention, using sketches and involving them in plenty of dancing and drumming.Last year a fence was put around the school plot to deter the animals. Recently about 100 trees have been planted in the grounds to improve the environment.There are now five students sponsored through the Hands Around the World Child sponsorship scheme (£10 per month) who are now attending local secondary schools. More would attend if Mrs. Sianga had the funds. Could you or a friend maybe sponsor a child please?The school still faces major challenges daily, but knowing that they have supporters throughout the world gives them real hope, and the incentive to continue to work hard for their future.
When the news of the damaged roof was announced we received a very generous and rapid response. This enabled us to send out funds to replace the missing roofing sheets and repair the damage. As a result the students were able to continue with their studies and take their grade 8 and grade 9 examinations.
The results of the grade 8 examinations have been received and 12 of the 19 students passed. (3 were unable to sit) This is a good achievement and continues to show great progress. Undoubtedly the additional funding that has been received during the year has improved the chances for the children at the school. It has to be remembered that the students from the school come from very difficult backgrounds – most of them have been orphaned and some are also HIV+, and not always in the best of health. Without PIZZ school these children would have little chance of any formal education.
The school is eagerly awaiting the results of the grade 9 examinations. Last year two students moved on to local secondary schools and continue to receive funding through PIZZ school. The success of the school will inevitably lead to more students ready to move to secondary school, though continuing funding could be a problem.
It is hoped to bring a new classroom into use this year to allow students to retake a year. These students are those who through illness or other problems, didn't achieve high enough marks to pass their exams this year, but still have the potential if given another chance.
If you are able to help us to continue helping all these lovely but very seriously disadvantaged children, your donation will be most gratefully received!
I visited Monze this year between June and the end of August.
Progress has been made during the past year particularly thanks to support through GlobalGiving and other donations linked to past volunteers.
Books have been bought – particularly for grade 8 and 9 students. These books are expensive (on average £6 - £7 each) and the school had very few to share among all the students. The situation is now much better, though they are still far from having enough – especially for the earlier grades.
The examination results have been good, with some students last year qualifying to move to secondary school.Apparently this is a rare achievement for a Community school – two of these students are being sponsored and Mrs. Sianga is currently supplementing this income. Other students haven't the means to continue their education.
With the added books Mrs. Sianga is hoping for better results at the end of this year.
It has also been possible for the children to have some new balls and sports kit (shirts and shorts). This has increased the interest in the football and netball, and the school is doing well in the local leagues with some of the children joining other local teams.
The school grounds have now been fenced to prevent animals getting in. They hope to grow vegetables and plant some trees in the grounds during the coming months.
The school has an extra laptop – though there are still issues with both laptops they have, they have some internet access using a USB modem and hope to be able to use a webcam to connect to the UK.
Most of the teachers are awaiting government posts. In July the majority of these were suddenly offered positions leaving Mrs. Sianga and the headteachers a major problem to recruit more staff. Despite this they had almost a full complement when the school re-opened in September.
On a recent visit by the education officers Mrs. Sianga was told that they were very impressed by the teachingthat was being carried out. The main complaints were that there were insufficient toilets for the children and there was no space within the school for the children to have any recreation activities.
Last week there was a very strong wind in Monze which caused considerable damage to the school – the roof was lifted off and the rain destroyed many of the newly acquired books. With grade 9 examinations imminent this has happened at a particularly difficult time. The damage is estimated at about £1,500 without including the replacement of the books. (About £750 was spent last year to buy 120 books)
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