“Education Can’t Wait” – The Power of Community and Education

Children from Yapite, Zambia

Preschool marks the beginning of children’s education journey, right?

For children in living in Yapite, Zambia it’s not as simple as that . . .

Firstly, Yapite sits on the borders of a National Park (a Game Management Area – GMA), where humans and animals co-exist. Animals such as elephants, pose a huge threat to children. There is often human-animal conflict in the area and travelling to school exposes children to life-threatening dangers daily.

Secondly, during the rainy season in Zambia, they're faced with increasing extreme weather conditions caused by climate change, which meant children could not travel to school because of severe flooding in the area. 

And thirdly, the closest schools to Yapite are 8-9 kilometers away, that’s a very long walk for anyone, especially young children.

Flooding in Yapite and Elephants

Building a Brighter Future: The Evolution of Chimutengo School

The Yapite community organised a small local preschool program in May 2015. Children could now learn and thrive without facing danger and a long walk. Misozi, who was 20 years old at the time, volunteered as the teacher. Twenty children attended the preschool in a kitchen, which doubled as a classroom. 

The class quickly grew, and the preschool relocated to a bigger location – under a tree.

The children loved school very much. They learned, made mud toys, and played a traditional game called Chiyenga. They were so happy at school and loved learning – despite the challenging conditions.

The Luangwa Child Development Agency (LDCA), ChildFund and Unicef visited the outdoor school in January 2016. Several community meetings followed the visit and planning for new buildings and facilities, in partnership with the Yapite community began shortly after that.

The community hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a modern preschool in May 2016.The school was expanding and a self-contained preschool with running water and showers was built.

Students now had a sheltered place to learn and the facilities they deserved.

ChildFund and Alliance partners from all over the world donated teaching and learning materials. Misozi received a three-year scholarship to train as a primary school teacher.

The community’s support for the school was unmatched. Work commenced in September 2017 to expand the school further and another classroom block was built. This meant even more space for children to thrive and learn.

Four teachers joined the school in 2018 thanks to support from the Ministry of General Education. 106 students now attended school in Yapite from preschool to third grade.

The school continued to grow and flourish every year, expanding facilities and teaching through to grade nine.

Classrooms for Home Economics and Science Laboratories were built in the following years. Along with a bigger library and Computer Lab.

The school had such a welcoming and inclusive approach to learning. LDCA coined the school motto “Education Can’t Wait”.

Today, 430 students and 11 teachers no longer walk for miles along dangerous paths each day. In 2023 Chimutengo School was in the top 3 schools out of 26 in the Luangwa District. And at a provincial level the school is among the top 10. 

Children in Yapite school

The Role of Community in Transforming Education

Through the power of community, education in Yapite has grown from one volunteer teacher and an outdoor classroom to a junior high-school with almost 500 students.

The children of Yapite no longer travel long dangerous paths for education.

With the support and vision of the community and the collaboration of LWCA and ChildFund the future of children in Yapite is bright.