Fighting absenteeism through sports
“At some point, Taurai stopped coming to school. We didn’t know why. We were worried about him,” explains Mr. José Francisco Boca, Director of EPC Dibi Primary School in Mossurize, Manica.
“Then one day, he suddenly came back. But not to the lessons. Instead, he sat watching the other children play football at the sports ground. He wanted to play as well, but we explained him that we have a rule at the school: only those children who study can play.”
Taurai Janissone, 14 years old, is an orphan and lives with his grandfather and younger brother and sister. His grandfather sustains the family as a farmer, but is already getting old. “When I went to talk to him about Taurai’s absences, he was very sorry and admitted that he would need help in watching after the children,” explains José. “This is when I decided to make sure that Taurai comes to school. And what would be a better way than through football!”
José is a strong believer in the positive impact of sports. While he already had a background in this area, the training in Physical Education and sports for school directors (in which he participated in 2011) was decisive for him. Since the training, he has made sure that all of his teachers and school council members participate in the training. “Sports are not only about health: they are first and foremost about enhancing both the physical and mental capacities of a child. They develop collective thinking, and help open the mind and attitudes of a child,” he explains.
Today, Taurai is back at school and studying hard to finish 7th grade. He is also one of the school’s best goal scorers. “I especially enjoy Physical Education classes,” he explains. “That’s where I learn new ways of playing football.” In the future Taurai would like to be a doctor and work at the hospital in Mossurize. “I know that in order to do this I will need to continue studying.”
José watches Taurai explain his future plans with satisfaction in his eyes. “Taurai is not the only child we were able to make come back to school, however. For instance, we have been very successful in motivating girls in staying in school. And this again through sports,” he explains. “Winning the school championships in women’s football has been a great inspiration for them. Nowadays, over half of the children studying in our school are girls.”
This is something the Director of EPC Dibi can be very proud of.
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