The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Literacy Day is this Friday, Sept. 8, under the theme “Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies.”
“Literacy is central to the creation of such societies, while progress in other areas of development contributes to generating interest and motivation of people to acquire, use and further develop their literacy and numeracy skills.”
A child’s right to education entails the right to learn, notes Rudo Mharapara, a social worker at the Shinga Development Trust’s Lerato Children’s Village in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
“In support of that notion, the Lerato Children’s Home (LCH) works tirelessly to ensure the provision of a quality education to children in its care,” she says.
It’s something that, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we are able to do for dozens of Lerato children year after year (and hundreds more elsewhere), with this year our goal being to increase the number to 115 primary and secondary school students including those living at LCH and others benefiting through Shinga’s outreach program.
Rudo reported in July that it takes a team, along with the students’ teachers, social workers, volunteers and interns who are helping them with their classwork and the various subjects they are learning about in school including reading and writing, arithmetic and art.
In addition to paying their tuition, the Bread and Water for Africa® education support program includes funding for their mandatory school uniforms and shoes, school supplies and other expenses.
And as Rudo explained their education does not stop at the classroom door, as LCH children are provided with a plethora of books to read after school at the children’s home where they also have access to computers and the Internet.
The students supported through our school fees program are typical in that they also enjoy the opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities including football (soccer) and other athletics and even gymnastics.
All of this is occurring in schools such as Dora Ward 5 and 35 which have no electricity, poor internet connectivity, “hence the lack of access to critical technology,” she told us.
The students in Shinga’s outreach program were selected through “community engagement, whereby village heads, counselors, school heads and community cadres are involved in the identification process of the beneficiaries.”
Among the beneficiaries through Shinga’s outreach program is “James” who lost his father at a young age and now, at age 18, cares for his three younger siblings while his mother is at work as a housemaid. He was selected as a beneficiary after he was identified as living in a child-headed family.
“James’ worst fear was being forced to drop out of school since his mother could not afford to send him and all her children to school and cover all their school expenses,” reported Rudo, who added that he “is very clever and determined to become a doctor with the aim of looking after his siblings and helping his community.
“He is very grateful to Shinga and Bread and Water for Africa® and his prayer is that we will be able to pay his school fees until he graduates.”
And as for James himself to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®:
“My life will never be the same again. Thank you for assisting me and all the others.”
Rudo also understands, as do we at Bread and Water for Africa®, that not all youth excel in schoolwork and are able to pass the government certification exams and Rudo requested that, “If funds permit, there is a need for funding for vocational school for those who are not academically gifted.”
Many of the orphaned and vulnerable children and youth selected have never attended school, but, Rudo notes that they are receiving an education “despite their social status or background, with the aim of improving their livelihoods.
“Beneficiaries can now go to school without worrying of being sent back home to collect fees and can now attend school all school days.”
For hundreds of children and youth throughout sub-Saharan Africa their greatest wish and hopeful prayers are to be able to get an education – and remain in school until they graduate – wishes and prayers that are coming true thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® and our dedicated African partners who are making it all possible, on International Literacy Day and every day year after year.