This project will provide academic resources (50 laptops, 130 solar lights, and 250 new books) to 125 orphaned and vulnerable children at Zara's Center, an after school safe haven in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. A year long public school shutdown due to covid-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities, making academic achievement even more elusive to at-risk children. Zara's Center will implement a comprehensive supplemental academic program to ensure long term success.
During a year-long closure due to covid-19, Zimbabwe's public schools offered no practical virtual options to children who lack internet access. Despite this, Zimbabwean students have been moved to the next grade level. Since only 4% of the poorest children in Zimbabwe have access to the internet at home [UNICEF], the country's neediest children will suffer disproportionately. Zara's kids will struggle academically in 2021 unless the Center undertakes a large scale intervention.
This project will help mitigate educational gaps caused by the shutdown, by providing crucial resources to compensate for lost learning due to covid-19. The number of available computers will grow by 85% to accommodate 65 children at a time. The new books and laptops will be used to work on the state curriculum when the children come to the Center after school. Solar lights will be sent home so children can study in the evenings during rolling blackouts, which have become routine.
The project will improve the academic outcomes of the 125 children at Zara's Center. The impact of these resources will be measurable, as staff reviews report cards and exam results each term to optimize programs. The laptops, books, and solar lights will be used long after the effects of covid have waned - in formal programs and for leisure reading/educational games. The Center can't solve the root causes of educational inequality, but we can intervene before the inequality worsens.