The Global Partnership for Education has helped more than 19 million children go to school for the first time. A campaign to renew support for these efforts will culminate in a pledging event in Copenhagen on 7-8 November. This series of stories seeks to highlight the Partnership’s work in the lead-up to this event.
By Tapuwa L. Mutseyekwa
ZAKA, Zimbabwe, 28 October 2011 – “My mother was buried among those trees,” eight-year-old Esnat said solemnly as she pointed to her mother’s grave in Zaka district, in southern Zimbabwe. “I was then taken in by the neighbours – they say they can only give me food and shelter, but cannot pay my fees.”
Despite the turmoil in her life, Esnat is a cheerful and radiant young girl. Her proper manners and easy charm make her stand out among her peers at the Chipezeze Primary School.
Investing in education
Currently, there are 1.4 million orphaned children in Zimbabwe, facing uncertain futures and desperate financial circumstances. UNICEF is aiming to ensure these young people are provided with proper educations. Through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), 514,000 orphans and vulnerable children were able to attend school.
Throughout Zimbabwe, students are receiving monetary support for school fees, as well as basic supplies. More than 13 million textbooks have also been printed and distributed to meet the syllabus requirements for mathematics, English, environmental science and a local language. At Chipezeze, Esnat and the other 447 pupils enrolled have all benefited from this support.
In a community often stricken by droughts, soaring death rates and a growing orphan population, this assistance is essential.
Countries provide support
“We remain optimistic that most of the challenges which have beset Zimbabwe’s education sector will soon be a thing of the past,” said UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Peter Salama, “The Child Friendly Schools Initiative best complements other programmes in place to ensure that Zimbabwe’s education sector regains its top status and that Zimbabwe remains on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”
Vital support from the Governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Commission has also helped the rejuvenation of Zimbabwe’s education sector, which had declined precipitously over the last decade.
This continued support will certainly help in boosting primary school attendance among the most vulnerable groups.