05 November 2015
|The school consists of a single block, made up of two classrooms, an administrative office and the principal’s office. 91 Children attend the primary school in the far northern province of Lunda Norte|
|Jose is a young, vibrant principal with the interests of his pupils at the forefront.|
Nzaji, Lunda Norte Province, 5 November 2015 – It is a single block, consisting of two classrooms an administrative office and the principal’s office. 91 Children attend the primary school in the far northern province of Lunda Norte.
The school stands on the land that was donated by the local municipal government, for refugees to be able to build houses and a community for themselves. Nzaji, is a poverty stricken town, nestled amidst forests, rivers and conditions in the part of town allocated to refugees has even higher levels of poverty. Refugees and locals alike struggle to eke out a living as some take to the forests in search of food, firewood and water.
In 2010, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Angola, recognised the fact that the children of refugees in Nzaji needed an education and so the school was built. JRS erected the building, but the Lunda Norte Provincial Authority is responsible for the continued running of the school and the employment of teachers.
The school largely caters for refugee children, however local Angolan nationals also send their children to the school. “Space is a serious concern.” says Kabwanga Jose, principal of the school. Seated behind his desk with notes strewn across his desk, he explains how they have managed to deal with the demand for education in the area: “We hope that government will build more classroom blocks, but in the interim, we are renting space at churches here within Nzaji.”
The school accommodates five levels/grades, but they only have two classrooms to teach from. Therefore the school has been split into two groups to accommodate everyone. One group starts school early in the morning, while the next group starts late in the morning into the early afternoon. Classes end at 16:00 PM, when sunlight fades as there is no electricity provided to the school.
“The children are doing exceptionally well despite the challenges.” Jose assures. “We have 9 teachers, 4 of whom teach the morning group and 5 that teach the afternoon group.” he goes on to explain.
Jose however believes that the pupils of the school can do so much better if they were to be better resourced: “At least two to three additional classrooms are needed, we need computers for the work of the teachers as well as for the children, we also need a printer and photocopier.” For this to be viable, electricity would have to be relayed to the school.
JRS, in building the school in this poor community, has answered a need that not only affects refugee children, but the children of locals as well. This is advocacy and social cohesion at its best! In the rare instance where JRS, though its core purpose of assisting refugees, is able to assist local communities as well, we create an opportunity for local and displaced communities to benefit jointly from our initiatives, it creates a sense of social cohesion and it facilitates cross cultural exchanges that lead to respect and peaceful co-existence.
Jose is a young, vibrant principal with the interests of his pupils at the forefront. He, along with the support of JRS have made a tremendous impact on this community and if his vision of what the school could be, comes true, it will indeed have a positive impact on all that benefit.
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