The Zawadi Pre-Primary School began as a collection of desks in a tiny room attached to Felistas Kalomo’s house. Through fundraising and tremendous support in London, a school comprising two classrooms, a caretaker’s room and a small office were opened 1999. A new classroom was added in 2006.
The school provides nursery education for 100 children between the ages of three and five over a period of three years, after which they move on to the local primary school at the age of six. We aim to target a mix of orphaned or destitute children alongside children with regular families. The orphaned children live with their extended families or with others in the village, thus remaining part of the community.
The children receive basic education in reading, writing and numeracy with a major emphasis on singing and dancing. There is playground equipment outside and a favourite activity is when our rotating team of grandparent storytellers come in on a Friday morning.
One of the extra benefits of the school is that the children are fed a meal of enriched maize porridge every day, and fresh fruit and vegetables. In times of drought, which can be frequent, this food is vital and for some children it is often their first or only meal of the day. The Project nurse checks every child monthly and records height, weight and MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) data to monitor their health.
The presence of nursery schools in the village plays an important role beyond the education of the children. It is also enabling mothers and carers to spend time earning money unencumbered by children too big to be carried and too small for primary school.