A Zambian mother on how the Catch Up programme helped her son to read

Mother of two, Ngoza Banda, speaks first hand about the impact of 'Catch Up' classes on her son's education.

Tiwine Muchipa
Gift Kasoku at school, catch up programme, early education,
20 March 2019

Ms. Ngoza Banda is the mother of two children. Her first child Gift Kasoku is in Grade 4 at Lupani Primary School in Kazungula district (Southern Province).

"My son Gift goes to school early morning at 8am till 12pm when his classes end. In the second school term of 2018 I, observed that Gift had started coming back home late than usual from school, This made me question my son why he had suddenly started getting back late from school from his response, Gift told me he was enrolled in a catch up class that started after his usual class hours for only an hour.

"As a concerned mother, I took interest in my son’s response and decided to go and consult from his class teacher and also gain more knowledge on what exactly the catch up lessons were and the purpose as it was new to me and I did not really understand Gift’s explanation.

"The following day after Gift had already left for school, I did my usual house chores and when I was done I prepared myself and went to his school. When I arrived at the school I went directly to his class and found his class teacher. I narrated my concerns to the teacher and followed up with a question asking about these after class lessons that my son was enrolled into. The teacher was very kind to fully explain to me what catch up really was and what the expected end results were. I must say, my Son did have some challenges with his school work and from my home assessments I had made a decision that Gift was going to repeat his grade 3 in order for him to improve in his reading and writing.

"After the class teacher’s explanation I decided to secretly monitor Gift and continued assessing him to see if the programme was helpful for him and if I should change my decision of letting my son repeat third grade.

"I first started by asking Gift to read for me from different Chitonga writings and slowly with time I observed he was beginning to read much fluent than before with less difficulties."

"The Catch up programme is an amazing initiative though with limited information spread to parents the programme received with mixed feelings. My friends from my church who are also parents to some children enrolled at Gift’s school would complain about their children’s delay from school and how they thought this was going to affect their academics. This is because normal school lessons end at 12pm then the children go in for an hour of catch up lessons at 13pm to 14pm. As a well-informed parent this made me take a step and share the knowledge I have with them on this school programme.

"At the end of the 2018 academic year, there was great noticeable change in the children’s school performance and my son Gift has since proceeded to Grade 4 in the 2019 academic year. As a parent who has seen her child greatly benefit from the programme I am highly motivated to support various school projects the school calls for and also, I do not hesitate to get more school requirements when needed.

"I would like to see this programme continue for great results from the children as it helps scale up education and to my fellow parents I would advise that they take keen interest to constantly check their children’s school performance and also provide support to the children and school activities when called upon."

The Catch Up programme has been piloted in Eastern and Southern provinces by the Ministry of General Education, supported by UNICEF with funding from USAID.

UNICEF Zambia Ngoza Banda
UNICEF Zambia children
UNICEF Zambia Teacher