The Manyinga District is Changing
Since the schools were opened in the late 1990’s, the Manyinga district, running about 80 by 70 km in size, has shown definite signs of development – some positive and some not so positive.
There is evidence of a growing agriculture economy, which will benefit the many small-holder farms in the area. However, the Ronalds also noticed the dangers associated with increased traffic, and a loss of mahogany trees from a large area due to foreign interests.
The Manyinga Project Teachers
Chinema and Samafunda schools are two of 23 schools in this district that were started by their communities, at the height of the AIDS crisis and low copper prices, when orphans were unable to attend school due to costs, distance to government schools, and other constraints. Most schools in these districts currently have one or two trained teachers and depend on unpaid, voluntary unpaid teachers, many of whom have not passed Grade 12. In contrast, the Manyinga Project is supporting eight full-time teachers at Chinema and Samafunda, as well as six student teachers who are working towards their teaching certificates. Four of the six student teachers are former Manyinga Project students. These student teachers were all orphaned at an early age due to HIV-related parental death. They were left to be the heads of their households with several siblings to raise, no social support, and no access to education. The support of the Manyinga Project in helping these students pursue their teaching certificate is making a huge difference to their future prospects and financial security.
The current model is for the government to begin paying their salaries once the student teachers achieve their teaching certificates. We continue dialogue with local authorities to ensure this transition is seamless.
All 45 Grade seven students at Chinema passed their national government exams. Many did quite well; about one third were in the top 25% in English, and most did very well in science. They are all proceeding onto high school. At Samafunda, 12 Grade seven students passed their exams, while one student was too ill to write.
Students all appeared in good health, receiving immunizations, worm treatments and a monthly meal from the school. Unfortunately, one Chinema student, infected with HIV at birth, died in 2016.
The banana plants at Chinema are growing well, and will produce fruit next year. Recent rains at Samafunda have helped the orchard bounce back after a prolonged dry spell.
The Farm Initiative
The Ronalds were able to meet with Happy Sakayi, the agriculturalist for both schools, and review his job description and expectations. As a result of their guidance, Happy will visit the schools more regularly, and engage students in Grades five to seven in the field as well as the classroom.
One of the ongoing challenges for the schools and the Farm Initiative is a lack of a reliable supply of water. The Ronalds were able to meet with the Secretary of District Council, who agreed to oversee the drilling of boreholes for both schools, and share the cost with the Manyinga Project. The current plan is to have these completed before the next dry season, usually starting in April. We are excited about the impact of fresh, reliable water on the children’s health and success of the gardens, orchards and crops. We will continue to update on the progress of this initiative.
Plans for 2017
The Manyinga Project Team has allocated budget towards teacher and student teacher salaries, an agriculturalist to work on the Farm Initiative, farm inputs such as seed, crop protection and fertilizer, rental of oxen and plough to prepare the land for planting, vet fees to maintain health of the goat herds, fruit trees for the orchards, night watchmen for security, first aid kits, and money set aside for ongoing maintenance of buildings, fencing and latrines. As noted above, the 2017 budget also plans for sharing of costs associated with drilling a borehole at each school.
Next update: Information from school reports, progress on borehole drilling and more!