The challenge that the project addresses
As the number of Zimbabweans infected with coronavirus (Covid-19) continue to rise, it is vital to move swiftly to head off its spread, and also protect vulnerable communities. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has recognised that COVID-19 is also a major educational crisis. The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has seriously impacted on Zimbabwe’s education sector as schools were closed two months ago following the government’s implementation of lockdown measures. While the government of Zimbabwe has assured the nation that it has put in place measures to protect learners and teachers from Covid-19 when schools re-open, Kauzhumba Primary School in Mola, Nyaminyami Rural District faces great challenges as it is not equipped with the necessary Covid-19 protection. Furthermore, learners at the school do not have access to technology and the internet, and as such, they do not have the privilege of online learning platforms, including free online support, tools and services provided by members of the Global Education Coalition established by UNESCO to facilitate remote learning opportunities for children and young people across the world. This means that teachers and learners at Kauzhumba must physically attend school. Since Kauzhumba Primary School does not have proper infrastructure, Covid-19 presents furthersignificant challenges to the school’s 410 learners and six teachers (currently understaffed), and the community at large. The school is situated in dry region five of Zimbabwe associated with low rainfalls and high temperatures, and as such, many households mostly rely on food assistance from government and other development partners. They either benefit from Lean Season Assistance during the peakhunger period or the Food for Asset programme in the post-harvest season. As result, this remote, poor and marginalized part of the country remains underdeveloped and in need of external support, and as such, it is difficult for the local community to provide necessary coronavirus prevention materials to the teachers and learners. Kauzhumba school needs sanitisers, hand washing facilities, face masks and a basic medical kit – the nearest clinic (Mayovhe clinic) is more than 16km from the school. Furthermore, the school lacks clean and safe drinking water with the nearest water source, an open weir dam, 1.7 km from it. The infrastructure at Kauzhumba Primary School does not promote social distancing due to the current state of the makeshift classroom shades. Therefore, it is crucial that a basic medical kit, sanitisers, detergents and face masks, hand washing equipment, such as soaps and large water containers with taps are made available to the school as part of the Covid-19 fight.
What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?
In response to this challenge, I appealed to members of the Kauzhumba School Building Project WhatsApp forum to help support the school in cash or kind (donations of face masks, sanitizers, and so on). A member of the group has pledged to provide facemasks for the learners and teachers when the school re-opens. Wearing facemasks in public places is now a legal requirement in Zimbabwe. I have decided to go beyond the forum and appeal to the outside world for support.
Describe the project's impact
The project will help provide a basic medical kit and reusable facemasks, increase access to handwashing essentials and clean water to 410 learners and six teachers at Kauzhumba Primary School, thus helping reduce the spread of the coronavirus at the school community, and the wider community.