If you can afford a school uniform, Elementary school (up through grade 7) is free in Zambia but grades 8 to 12 are not. In fact, it cost so much that most children cannot attend high school in the Northern Province.
ZSF began supporting high school students in 2002.
Most high schools are room and board, which means village children must leave their homes and live at the high school. They are not like most of us think of a room in a boarding school. These schools were built back in the fifties and sixties and nothing has been done to them since. They have no running water or flush toilets because the water and the sewer systems were some of the first things to break down. Now students use the surrounds bushes or out houses as their toilets. This doesn't sound that bad, but keep in mind that these schools were built to accommodate five hundred students and today they are accommodating 1800 students.
The Cafeteria’s and meeting halls are all worn down too. There is never any money to fix anything. There are broken windows and roofs falling in. The students don’t have mattresses, they just sleep on wood planks or metal trunks.
Cooking for 1800 will amaze you too. There is no electricity so no electric cooking pots. They cut three holes in the back of a building and push wood into the center of the holes so that a fire can burn inside the cement cubicles they have built. On the tops of the cubicles sit large pots where they can bring water to a boil over the fire.
They make inshema, a mush type substance made out of ground corn or millet. They get the same thing every meal with vegetables only once a day. They only get meat (usually chicken or fish) if someone is willing to pay for it. Each student files in with his or her bowl in her hand they dump a scoop of inshema in their bowls and when they are done eating it with their hands they walk down to the stream or well to wash out their bowl and put it on their bunk until the next day and do it all over again.
Tables to eat on, benches to sit on, shelves to put their belongings on are all luxuries, desks for all is unthinkable. Yet . . .
All of this aside, the students are so happy because they are the lucky few who are going to high school!
Just this year the government decided that since so much of their population live in the bush, they need secondary schools located in the bush where students living in the bush can attend without leaving their village.
They are willing to pay high school teachers a little more if they are willing to live in the bush. They have even made a new rule that village children can pay their school fees with chickens or corn or whatever they raise.
The children will leave their villages carrying their weeks food, coals and small stove on their backs and cook their inshema at the school each night then walk home on the weekends to eat with their family and gather more food for the week. Many will be walking most of the day just to reach the school. We are happy to be one of the first to support two of these secondary day schools:
Donate 25 dollars per month to support a high school student for a year
Donate 25 dollars to purchase desks, tables and benches for our high schools