Community schools have the potential to impact the future of Zambia by investing in tomorrow’s leaders.
A community school is a local solution to the need for education in developing African countries. They are established by caring individuals who see the need for a school in their area and seek to respond by starting a community-run school. While each community school is different, the majority of them struggle with the same issues. They receive no government funding, and are supported only by what the community can give, which is usually very little if anything. They rarely have trained teachers, but only volunteers who give what knowledge they have. Typically, they do not have a curriculum, teaching supplies, or books for the children. Most students come from poor families where food and money is scarce. They hope to have one meal a day at school, but the majority of community schools are unable to feed their students.
If the situation within these schools is so desperate, then why do they exist? The main reason these schools struggle is also the main reason they exist – poverty. Poverty often keeps children from attending government schools. Although primary schools are considered “free” in Zambia, there are many hidden costs. Uniforms, books, user fees. In a country where 69% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, parents cannot afford to send their children to the government schools. But even if every family had the money, there wouldn’t be enough schools to house them. In Ng’ombe, a compound of 95,000 people, there are only two government schools. There aren’t enough classrooms, teachers, or books to meet the needs of all of the children in Ng’ombe. Poverty and access to education are two of the key reasons why community schools exist. To meet the educational needs of a country where more than half the population is below the age of 18, communities came up with a local solution – community schools.