October 2010: Western Province climate ambassadors advocate for a floating school
By Tambudzai Mutale*
MALABO, Zambia – Situated 25 kilometres west of Mongu Township in a village called Tungi, Malabo Basic School was established in 1996. When a visitor arrives at the school for the first time it is difficult to realise that it is a school. There are only 2 classrooms blocks for the 247 pupils who range from grade one to seven. The classrooms are built out of reeds and mud, with grass thatched roofing. Every year the classrooms have to be reconstructed by the community members owing to the large presence of termites.
It is undoubtedly clear that education has a crucial role to play in the social and economic development of Zambia in general and Mongu District in particular. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) refer specifically to the reduction in poverty as one of the most important goals. This goal cannot be achieved unless Education for All is achieved. The people of Malabo, in the flood plains of Mongu should also be allowed to participate in this drama.
The Zambezi plains in Western Province get flooded annually, and this to a large extent controls the pattern of life for large numbers of people and their livestock, such as cattle, goats, and chickens. The largest population concentration is along the edges of the floodplains. The Barotse, or Lozi people, follow the transhumance subsistence type of agriculture and economy. A number of schools are located in the plains, and when these plains get flooded, many of them close down because there is simply no access to the schools. The closures last from late December to July during which time there is virtually no schooling going on. Malabo is one of the schools that get affected annually.
On 9th October, 2010, we, the Climate Ambassadors from Western Province, accompanied by our chaperon and an officer from the District Education Office, went on a tour to Malabo, one of the many schools that get flooded annually. With only four teachers to handle the seven classes, the teachers themselves have not been spared from the troubles faced by the school. There are only three grass-thatched houses which the teachers themselves abandon during the peak of the floods.
When asked about the floods in his area, the headman for the community said that the floods start from late December and go on until May. It is only in the second term that the pupils return to school.
Education for All is essentially a worldwide initiative to make a giant step forward in improving basic education, based on the understanding that education is a fundamental human right.
*Mutale is a Unite4Climate Ambassador and a recent graduate of St. John's Secondary School in Mongu, Zambia.