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Whats' Happening!?


In pursuit of ensuring quality education access for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in Zambia, Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) forged rivers, beat forests and crossed sands in Western province to keep the education message alive in rural communities. This time the team visited Nangalata Community School located 90 kilometres South East of Mongu district. The aim was to meet the locally formed Community Action Group (CAG) members to deliver branded t-shirts that would serve as an identity when out there performing one of their roles, which is to identify the Out of School children, and enrol them in school.

In the rural and remote Mongu district most people earn their livelihoods through fishing in local rivers, cultivating cassava and maize alongside raising goats, chickens and cows. Early morning and afternoon, children trek the sandy terrain and flooded plains to attend Nangalata Community School. ZOCS team members, others visiting the province for the first time, indeed experienced firsthand the obstacles children face, and the perseverance required for them to obtain basic quality education. Different from what is experienced in none-drought years, the Zambezi River floods the plains preventing motor vehicles from passing through.

It’s an estimated three kilometres before reaching the school, the team meets the Lui river. Though the plains may not be fully flooded, the Zambezi tributaries never cease to flow. The ZOCS team in the company of the DEBS official was stuck. The only banana boat was reportedly down and the Hilux could not rave through the waters. Standing there trying to devise the next move, the team was joined by a group of Grade 7 learners with their teacher. They were from a nearby school to register for examinations since Nangalata has no centre number. The learners were quick to encourage the ZOCS team that there was a way to meander through the waters to the other side. The team had no option but to follow the route paved by the brave learners and made it to the other side. With a short-lived sigh of relief after crossing the river, the journey through the hot sand begun with the team still keeping their humour intact. Finally, the team arrived

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Down syndrome got nothing on Rita’s education Rita is always ‘on the go’. She loves to explore and learn how things work. ZOCS met Rita Kaluwe at Kashembe Community School, reception class. She is 6 years old and has down syndrome. When she enrolled in school last year after being identified by a Community Action Group (CAG) member as ripe for school, she did not talk much and did not know any signs.

The class teacher Dorothy Chikongo started teaching her concepts and helped her develop her language skills. Today Rita can combine words to communicate more complex messages. She already knows preschool concepts such as colours, numbers, shapes, letters and sounds. She touches the appropriate symbol or object whenever the teacher requests her to. The staff is proud of Rita and ZOCS through the vibrant CAG members, for providing support resulting in such an incredible opportunity. According to her teacher, Rita did not interact with others and she was very slow at anything. Now she has blossomed and able to participate in all activities. Her concentration span has also improved tremendously. The fact is, children with down syndrome can be taught. The fact is, they all learn to take their first steps and if helped, they learn to kick a ball, they laugh, they cry and that to ZOCS, means they can and do reach the milestones enjoyed by other children. ZOCS vision remains, “A Zambia where all Community School Learners, especially Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), girls and Learners with special education needs, obtain quality and equitable education that enables them to realize their fullest potential.”

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There's nothing more pure than an innocent child's smile. It's just so radiant with unadulterated happiness. That’s one of our children at Kapa Special Unit (boarding).

May our work as ZOCS be as beautiful as this adorable child❤. Good night ZOCS

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