My Community Where I Learn and Live
MANSA, Zambia (By Betty Chella Nalungwe/UNICEF) - James Community School is located approximately 15Km from the main road in Mansa district of Luapula Province. The school is surrounded by the community of James Village. Most of the residents are poor farmers of cassava and corn while some of them -- especially men --take up casual employment in the Manganese mining sites in the nearby village. Trading of local produce and groceries also takes place in the community and some shops have been built near the school.
James Community School one of the many schools that has benefited from UNICEF with support from its partners ING. With this support, James Community School has seen the construction of a 1by 3classroom block that includes office and storage space, integrated pit latrines for the pupils and staff, and also a borehole that is fitted with a hand pump. The water point also serves the community. Parents and even those that do not have children at the school are allowed to use the water point and this is an added benefit to the community.
“I came to James Community School thirteen years ago. I remember clearly that there was not a single building here. We used to teach the children under the big mango tree. We did not have chalk boards or desks. The children came with cardboard papers or looked around for big stones which they used to sit on during learning sessions. Of course there were many children of school-going age in the community but not all of them came to our community school. Some parents opted to send their children to live with relatives in areas where there were good schools within the district. Others chose to keep their children at home,” said James Community School Head Teacher George Kana.
The school whose current enrolment is at 325 (150 girls and 175 boys) has grown from the school under the mango tree to one that has solid wooden desks, chalk boards, and even a solid roof. Enrollment has improved and school attendance is far better than before. There are some parents who have moved from another village to James just so that their children can attend school at the community school.
The head teacher also mentioned that the school is also enjoying great community participation and that parents are getting more involved in school activities. Because of ING support, the school has also started an early learning programme with pre-school enrolment of 120 (55 boys and 65 girls).
Even though the school is facing challenges in the areas of staffing with only 2 trained teachers (out of 8 faculty members) and no staff housing, the children continue to come to school every day. They play and laugh with each other. “This is where we learn, play and live. Our teachers are nice and we like our school,” these were the sentiments from 11-year-old Justina Kunda, a grade 6 pupil at the James Community School.
Nearly every child says he or she would like to become a teacher when they complete their education, another testimony of how they value their improved school.