Kariba South Primary School – a happy little place where the lessons are more than just academic.

I’ve talked about the misuse of images before and I think this is an interesting one – we could have framed this photo (children in a wheelbarrow) differently to portray an image of poverty. In fact, we could have taken all manner of photos of the school to convey the type of message we wanted, whether that was one of hope or desperation.
It would have been easy to make the school look like it’s in a desperate situation – on paper, it is. They receive little over 200 usd in funding each year from the gov’t and space is so tight that classes are carried out in three shifts per day (usually in the hard pressed schools of Zambia its two shifts). In fact, the nursery classes are carried out in the shade of a tree and they have no staff room, lab, library etc just a few basic classrooms, an under-stocked tailoring room and a garden.
But the school is not defined by what it lacks. A class is not a building, it’s a teacher and ten pupils sitting under a tree. Kariba South Primary School is not in desperate need, rather, it is facing great challenges and the students and teachers are banding together to face them.
Earlier this year, they begun working on a vegetable garden at the school, providing produce to a ready market in the local fishing village. The closest market where vegetables are sold is over 30km away and sellers travel by infrequent bus to source their produce. In the last three months the garden has generated more than 150 usd for the school. When they reach 200 they plan on reinvesting in a fence to keep the goats out so that they can expand their garden and the income it generates. This income will in turn be used to expand and develop their school and skills training classes.
While this may seem like a relatively easy way of making money, it has not been without its difficulties . A broken water pump has meant the pupils have had to walk 600m to the lake (a lake which is home to roughly 18,000 crocodiles) to fill their 20 litre canisters. Kids half my size carry these canisters back by hand or by wheel barrow. And that’s what the kids in this picture we doing before they decided to goof around for the camera: filling the wheel barrow with containers of water to feed their garden.
When asked if it’s a bad thing that her pupils must work on the garden in temperatures reaching the high thirties, the head teacher, Ms Siatwiko, is adamant that it is not.
“These children learn the value of their education. They learn that they must put the effort in if they want to better themselves. They learn how to be self-sustainable. It teaches them responsibility. It teaches them not to put out their hands, but to put those hands to work to get what they need”.
We could have put up a photo of young children learning their ABC’s under a tree, but smiling children in a wheelbarrow which is used to fetch water to grow vegetables to sell in the market to pay for the costs of running and developing their school more accurately represents the spirit of Kariba South Primary School. I look forward to checking back in five years.

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