Education is not just a Covid19 problem

By Amanda Marufu

While most people have been faced with the reality of not having access to education for the first time this year for many other students this a reality they have lived with for much longer. 

We have partnered with Tugwi Trust in Chivi, Heartwave Foundation in Kwekwe, and Kabwe Children’s Home in Binga. All three work directly with in-need children.

Binga District is situated on the northern side of Zimbabwe and it is regarded as one of the very poorest districts because it is a dry harsh land. The people of Binga are living in poverty and are in serious need of financial support and education. 

The people in Binga District are remote and very far from big cities and they have little or no access to funds and limited opportunities to work, education, or playing sport. In big cities, children can attend school and do sports and even excel in sports, but it is hard in Binga because there are no playing grounds. It becomes hard for the children to be empowered as they cannot explore their talents or reach their full potential as they have no resources here, SMBLO would help connect them to what is available to children in other parts of Zimbabwe and across Africa.

Kabwe Children’s Home is an orphanage situated in Pashu, Binga District, Zimbabwe. The orphanage also takes part in community projects to distribute food parcels to very remote and needy families and to feed local school kids who would otherwise go without food, working directly with Zimbabwe Food Mission. 

As an orphanage, Kabwe Children’s Home has 8 children, 6 girls, and 2 boys. These are Annacollator aged 17, Faith 14, Nozihlobo 15, Khethiwe 14, and Thando 11 months. Five of the above-mentioned girls are teenagers who are in need of sanitary pads. There are two boys, Gift 13 and Pananshe 8. 

The orphanage is expecting more children by the end of the year as they are currently constructing a house to house more orphans. The above-mentioned children would benefit from online education as they don’t have funds for school fees, school uniforms, and meals to eat before going to school and meals to carry for break time and lunchtime. Financially, the Kabwe Children’s Home is in desperate need of any form of help related to the above-mentioned difficulties here in Binga, any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

In addition, the orphanage is located near Pashu secondary school and Pashu primary school. The secondary school has 570 children and the primary school has 340 children. All in all the children are approximately 1000 and the higher percentage is girls. All these children need basic stationery, computers, data for internet connection, and e-learning. The schools are also in desperate need of furniture, science laboratories, libraries, and classrooms. The schoolgirls are in need of sanitary pads.

In Chivi, Tugwi Trust has been working with orphans and students from child or grandparent-headed families and those whose parents and guardians do not have the means to keep them in school.   

The program is being implemented at Gondo Primary School and at Jenya, Tambudzai, Muzono High Schools and Chamasvinga, Zororai, Chidyamakono, and Mudadisi Secondary Schools.

There is also a special Cyclone Idai component that sponsors 63 children from Ndima Primary School in Chimanimani that were affected by Cyclone Idai.

The program also sponsors children in Tertiary colleges.

In total 265 children are in the program. Of these 161 are girls and 104 boys. 25 are in primary schools, 169 in High School, 8 in tertiary institutions, and 63 are in Chimanimani.

Students have not been able to go to school since closure in April 2020. The schools in Chivi have attempted to carry out online classes for their scholars but with most of the students not having access to the internet and not having cellphones this has not taken off as expected.

The schools will attempt to do crash lessons once schools open for students in order to prepare them for examinations. However, the shortages of textbooks. wherein most cases there is only one copy for the teacher, which means that the crash courses will not be as effective as might be desired.

For many people in Africa having a cellphone means being able to connect with friends and family around the world but a cellphone in a childs hand can mean having much-needed access to the quality education awarded to others.

Through funds raised from our live event, we pledge to donate half towards sponsoring students in Zimbabwe through our three partners and also set up an ongoing sponsor a children program to continue to reach and educate more students. 

This program will provide students with, 

1. A cellphone

2. A power bank

3. Data for a year

4. Content, in the form of videos, books, tests, revision guides, and more.

Through the other half, we will continue to develop and create new programs to educate students. 

Although to you a phone might just be a phone, we envision a world in which a lack of resources does not mean a lack of knowledge. Through SMBLO we will be able to provide students with millions of books from across the world straight from their fingertips.

We will have experiments simulated straight from your phone allowing students to partake in any kind of experiment for example; testing different chemical reactions without needing to buy different chemicals.

Have clubs and debates happening online to stimulate students who aren’t able to travel but can still partake in global debates. For a student who isn’t able to go to school, they can find a teacher right in their home who can help them learn.

Introduce a world in which education is truly a basic human right. 

The debate has been often whether the internet can indeed be accessible to all and to that we say why not? When the problems in education have existed long before the pandemic.

The average African family has low earnings and limited resources while the price of quality education remains high. Children in African Rural Areas have no access to the educational benefit of the internet. According to UNESCO 20, 400 pupils in the country dropped out of primary school in 2018, some after being married off. In 2017, there were 2.1 million status dropouts between the ages of 16 and 24. In 2016, 263 million children, adolescents, and youth were out of school, representing nearly one-fifth of the global population with 56% of the out-of-school children being girls.

UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school-age—half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom. Poverty remains the most important factor in determining whether a girl can access an education.

Ponder this: ‘What would be easier? To give everyone an internet connection or to build a new school in every rural area across Africa, with great teachers, books, and resources for each subject all whilst having enough money left over for resources to conduct monthly experiments across all forms and grades?’

We believe it’s the former and this year together we can make sure that all students have access to quality education regardless of where they are from.

From 1 August to 14 August we will be conducting a 2 week long event that will be streamed online and aim to break two world records

1. The longest live stream in history (set by Hulu)

2. The longest video chat is history (set by Skype) 

We are currently looking for sponsors and partners.

Amanda Marufu is a co-founder of edtech company

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