RESTORING HOPE-CHIEDZA CHILD CARE CENTER OUT OF SCHOOL
In Zimbabwe, the schools have opened for the third term beginning on the 3rd of September until early December. Children, parents and teachers are busy getting ready for the last lap of the education calendar for 2013.
However, there are orphans and other vulnerable children who are not even aware of the school calendar. Some have never been to school, and some have dropped out of school before they even completed the infant stage of
their education. Such is the impact of economic hardships and HIV and AIDS. They have lost hope in this competitive era, where education can open opportunities for better lives and combat poverty.
At Chiedza, the third term for the 102 children who dropped out of school or never been to school has started with hope and renewed energy. Through the hardworking and passionate retired teachers from the surrounding community, Chiedza is operating an Out of School Programme at the Center, where the orphans and other
vulnerable children are attending lessons. We put the children in 3 levels and their education is fast tracked in line with their ages and levels of understanding. We call it Accelerated Learning Programme. We utilize an educational curriculum for non-formal education. The children learn in groups under a big shade, there are no classrooms. But under that big shade, there is renewed hope!
We were also innovative enough to give the children at the community center a school identity. The caregivers sew uniforms using the Chiedza colors for the out of school children. This gives them confidence and a sense of identity. The community center here at Chiedza gives the children a safe and free environment where children learn without fear of being stigmatised due to their age and level of understanding. When they are ready and confidence is boosted, they join the masses in the formal schools.
We conduct assessments when children are in level 3 to check whether they are ready for reintegration
into the formal schools. The aim is to ensure that the children are able to read, write and attain primary education. To date we have reintegrated 70 children in the main schools. We have restored lost hope for these children. More are still coming seeking places at the center for the accelerated learning, however resources are strained. We are the bridging gap between the lost hope in the community and the formal school. This model for us is unique, as there was no recognition of non-formal education for young children in Zimbabwe. It was meant for adults only. At Chiedza we realized that we cannot ignore the challenge of school drop outs, it is a reality for orphans and vulnerable children.
With the generous support from yourselves we continue to solder on despite the challenges of limited furniture, reading books, classrooms, teacher stipend, school fees for reintegration, school uniforms and teaching materials. It gives us strength to know that we are a center of restoring hope at Chiedza Child Care Center.