School – A word everyone on the planet is aware of, however a privilege that only some are fortunate enough to fulfill. Classroom learning, playground chatter, and making friends should be a right of passage for every single child. However in places like Africa, the gift of an education is not possible for every child. With around 57 percent of children in Malawi not finishing primary education, and 65 percent of grade 2 – 3 Zambian children unable to read or write, its apparent that the education system in both theses countries requires a helping hand. Promised Land Foundation has dedicated itself to helping the less fortunate in both Malawi and Zambia by enriching their lives with kindness and hope. Through its donations, the Foundation has been creating sustainability amongst schools in both Malawi and Zambia.
Although primary school is compulsory for children in both African countries, simply sending them to a building with no resources does not equate to providing an education. School is for learning, educationally and socially, and to provide an acceptable learning environment materials such as stationary, desks, educational books, and even uniforms to name a few are very much needed in the schools structure. Unfortunately, many schools lack these opportunities. With the challenges, many children fail to make it through primary education and progress into secondary education. In Malawi to progress onto secondary education requires children to sit and pass their final primary school exam, highlighting even more the importance of strong foundations to education in their earlier years. Although private schools are available, most parents cannot afford to send their children to this type of school system. The cost of private school in Zambia can be on average 2000 USD per year. For the forgotten ones, this type of education is out of reach. This fee could be a whole years salary or even double for some families. Of course, it is a dream of any parent to be able to provide the very best for their kids, in Malawi and Zambia however, this dream is sadly impossible for these struggling families. Instead their children are left with below acceptable learning environments, and for some, no education at all.
In the compound of Mulgena in Kwite, Zambia, the children are vulnerable and many are orphaned. For a lot of these young individuals going to a school that could provide a curriculum would not only provide a standard of education, but also give them needed hope. Tim Peloquin, the Founder and President of Promised Land Foundation has witnessed first hand the school system available to the children of this compound, and it was evident quickly what the school, its students, and its teacher were in desperate need of. In the western world when we think of school, its a given that there will be desks for students to sit at, pencils available to write in the educational books provided, a teacher with adequate training and an expected university degree and a standard of education that meets the national standards inspiring children to progress beyond secondary school and into further learning in colleges and universities. In Zambia and Malawi however, the only expectation is that the children attend the first school, a curriculum or any further progression is a bonus, or more likely, a miracle. When Promised Land Foundation stepped in to offer their assistance, no one in the compound could have ever imagined the dedication PLF would give to their local primary school and what a massive difference this would make to the children’s school experience and their education for future years to come. PLF began by building a foundation of sustainability. However, their mission here of providing a suitable education whilst installing love and hope of the Gospel is far from over.
With its donations, Tim and Promised Land Foundation (PLF), have provided the school with desks, stationary, educational resources, filing cabinets for the children work to be stored, laptops, screens, uniforms, and even food. A gift from PLF is like a gift from God for this community. Now they can have a structure to their education. The teachers have guidelines to assist them in the educational material provided, when before it was like a maze, difficult to navigate. The children respond with a willingness to learn. Finally they have the direction they have so desperately been craving. With a dedicated space for learning, the children take their seats at their desks proudly and with an explosion of excitement await their day of education. When questions are asked, the children are now eager to answer as the curriculum is now consistent. They can go home and practice what they learned in class and complete their homework knowing it will be followed up the next day. As they store their classroom work neatly in the filing cabinets, they are storing a history of their ability. A record of learning that was not possible before and one that will assist them in gaining further education. Like all classrooms worldwide, these kids even have a healthy competition brewing as to who is the best in the class, introducing them to an eagerness to be the best they can be. Even their uniforms, which was a foreign concept to begin with, has installed a comradery aspect to their school. Uniforms have long been proven to provide a feeling of proudness and self respect as well as promoting a feeling of belonging to something. The power of the school uniform does not stop there with it being shown to improve school discipline and attendance. The uniforms provided by Promised Land Foundation are much more than clothes to these inspiring children. Their uniforms are their very own super hero capes that makes them feel like they can achieve anything beyond their wildest dreams.
The concept of school as we know is much more than education. Yes, education is the pinnacle of the schooling system, but education comes in many forms. Studying English, math, and history for example, are key and extremely important foundations to opening doors to successful careers. However, school also provides those key social skills required for navigating life. The playground chit chat that can seem insignificant can actually play an important role in developing those all important communication skills needed in the perfect career that the education system helped achieve. The social behaviors such as encouragement, empathy, kindness and engagement are paramount in adult life. Such behaviors will contribute to the children having a meaningful life and finding their own place in society. Promised Land Foundation is providing more than educational resources to the children of Africa. They are providing a foundation to their whole life. Each and every donation given is being used as a catalyst in creating socially confident, educated young individuals with choices. Children who have the ability to become influential members of society.
Written by – Kerry Harvey