Zambia (MNN) — The first week of school is over, and for many students, getting into the routine of schedules, homework and sports is going smoothly.
However, in Zambia, more than half of the country's population are 16 years old or younger, which means the country's educational system is extremely overburdened. Additionally, 43% of the students who should be in primary school are not in the classroom, meaning a good deal of the population will be illiterate.
Lack of infrastructure, insufficient teacher training, and resource imbalances between rural and urban schools are consistent challenges. For many in the rural areas, it's a lack of access to school that prevents kids from going.
Sometimes, the nearest school to a village is 10km away. Young children walking to and from school at that distance are prime targets for animals and human predators. At other times, there's a school, but no teacher or no supplies. Poverty prevents parents from paying for school fees and uniforms.
When a school gets built, the community takes notice. Education is a gift to the adults in these villages because it means their children have a way out of poverty. The education Kids Alive provides enables children to grow up into the people God wants them to be.
Jim Kongwa, Kids Alive Director in Zambia, says they've already got two schools going, one in Sefula and one in Mongu, about 14 km apart on the west side of the country. Together, they provide education to 500 children, including preschoolers.
However, in Mongu, the need is outpacing their space, so they're building four new classrooms. "Probably about 200 more children can be enrolled once the new school flat is able to be completed."
The Kids Alive Emmanual School was opened in 2003 under the direction of Manuelly Nyumbu, a local man with a calling to help vulnerable children. The school teaches grades one through seven, including Bible studies, chorus, and other activities.
Lunch is provided for the nearly 200 children who attend each day. The Emmanuel School would like to continue to improve the facilities and resources available to the children of Mongu, as funding permits. To help provide income, young women are taught sewing, and the young men and boys learn carpentry skills at the School.
Kongwa says they've made good progress on the building and hope to be finished by October. "The new school provides better classrooms, clean water, and other facilities, like a computer lab."
As the building takes shape, anticipation is growing. "We are waiting to put up the roof, and that's when I think we can begin to enroll some new kids and also transfer some kids from our old school." It's a critical part to ministry growth. Kongwa explains that it's a door opener into the wider community. "Most of the parents know that we're a Christian school; we encourage [kids] to accept the Lord Jesus Christ. They see, as an NGO, what we are able to do for their children. That's really helped to evangelize them."
The impact of a school is hope. Bringing the hope of the Gospel along with that ensures community transformation. There's always a need for prayer support, but funds are also needed to continue purchasing building materials to complete the project in a timely fashion.
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