We are joining the rest of the world in celebrating The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed International Day of Education to celebrate the role of education for peace and development which falls on January 24th each year. Without inclusive and equitable quality of education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth, and adults behind. This year’s theme is “Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation”.
Response Network Zambia, as a Non-Governmental Organization, has been working in three provinces of Southern Zambia in the area of education as one of its thematic areas for over ten years. Working with financial and technical support from Academic of Sweden, over 600 socio-economic vulnerable girls each year have been accessing primary and secondary education through a ‘girls sponsorship program. The girls are supported with school fees, uniforms, and other prerequisites. Additionally, 44 girls have been sponsored in tertiary education and have completed while others are studying a variety of professions in teaching, medicine, and finance. In order to provide opportunities for others who do not qualify for tertiary support but are entrepreneurially inclined, 147 girls have been empowered and trained in skills courses such as power electrical, catering, tailoring, and carpentry.
Another aspect of support from Academic Work of Sweden and Norwegian Church Aid and other individual donors in Norway working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in the rural areas of the three districts, 71 community schools have been constructed on self-help concept. Subsequently, about 13,000 rural children (boys and girls) have been able to access primary education and sexual reproductive health education out of which 169 are children with disabilities.
With the current and ongoing Pandemic, families that were previously vulnerable, have become even more vulnerable. Most of the guardians to our sponsored children have been retrenched and those who are running small businesses have been drastically affected due to lockdowns and lack of cross-border trade due to closed borders. In view of this, Academic Work through Response Network supported 600 households with Christmas hampers comprising of food and sanitary items to ease their socio-economic burden through the festive season.
We are extremely happy that working with our partners, we have been able to contribute in a small way towards making a difference in these children’s lives.