This was one of the first projects for RSF, but due to that the government started Child Literacy Hub in our area, we decided not to compete with them and closed our programme in the end of 2017.
The child literacy hub is our project that seek to help children not to be a subject to child labor, teenage pregnancy and child marriage but instead prepare them for primary education.
An ordinary child from a rural community of Petauke District in Zambia is likely to escort his/her parents to the fields as they do the farming activities until they are five years. At five, a boy child face the risk that he will be sent to keep animals for four to eight years. After completing this agenda, the boy is given an animal or two. It is only after this when he is sent to school to start grade one. Because of the age difference to the other children, that usually start school around six years, the boy are bullied and feel socially excluded and eventually stops school and start farming. When these boys are 15 or 16 it is common that they get married to a 13 or 12 year old girl from the same community. This is a normal culture which parents allow to continue despite the governments efforts to try and stop these vices.
A girl child is commonly brought up getting prepared to be a mother. She learn how to take care of the family and when she reaches puberty stage she is ready to be married off. For the girls as well as the boys the school is just another option instead of mandatory as the case should be.
In our efforts to contribute positively to these challenges highlighted here, we have developed the child literacy hub project. The child literacy has created a hub for the children from three years until they start primary school. The children comes to interact with our devoted rural changers that goes through a small curriculum with them. This is to influence the parents to send their children to school when they reach the age of six, the stage when boys face the risk to be sent to the bush to look after animals while girls face the risk of being engaged in household chores to prepare them for marriages. The project gives also a relief to the parents as they can leave their children at the hub as they leave for fieldwork. Another benefit we have seen for these kids is that when they arrive to the hub their parents have helped them get a bath and their clothes are cleaned which otherwise is not always the case.
The project started in 2016 and since then it has been inspiring 20 girls and 20 boys that come to our hub on a daily basis in Sikolwe village.
This is how we organize the project
The project has four key elements. Thus; children, rural changers, the church and supportive parents. Our young dedicated volunteers called rural changers are trained in a kindergarten curriculum to host these children during the school hours. The project has no financial muscles to put up structures, instead there is always a need to create an MoU with the local church to provide shelter for the project. Lastly the project needs supportive and committed parents that recognize our efforts for these children’s future.