Beginning in June 2013, BCP has agreed to help subsidize teachers’ wages at the Mweeshang’ombe and Chilimba Community Schools, located in the Project Zone for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. After extensive consultation with the PTAs and communities of Chilimba and Mweeshang’ombe Zones, BCP has agreed with local community stakeholders and has identified “lack of incentives” for teachers as one of the key obstacles to obtaining quality education for students in these two zones, where there are no government (standardized) schools available to students. This pilot program is designed to improve teacher accountability, quality of education and attendance at classes.
BCP’s Teacher Salary Support Program is a “matching contribution” program that requires local communities to fundraise for a reasonable amount of teachers’ salaries, to ensure that community ownership of community schools continues. BCP has also linked provision of Teacher Salary Support funds to on-going indicators such as regular attendance at classes during school hours, which field-based Community Coordinators will regularly check for compliance.
At Mweeshang’ombe Community School, one teacher is responsible for approximately 130 students. At Chilimba Community School, two teachers have been sharing responsibility for over 220 students. Critically, BCP has linked Teacher Salary Support to quality of instruction—meaning that it is a condition of on-going support that teachers arrive to class sober and teach classes throughout the school day. As a positive “surprise” to come from this program already, although stakeholders in Chilimba Community had initially expressed concerns about being able to pay wages for community school teachers—lack of regular salary payments in the past was partially to blame for the poor quality of education that the students received—when the community heard about BCP’s Teacher Salary Support Program, and our commitment to matching community contributions to teacher salaries, the community managed to fundraise for two additional teachers. This has allowed for the quality of education at Chilimba Community School to drastically improve, already, as there are now twice as many teachers available (four teachers, as opposed to two), and the new teachers are able to hold the long-term teachers accountable to the terms of the program. BCP is further impressed and touched by the community’s demonstration of commitment, by raising sufficient funds to help to pay for four teachers’ salaries on a regular basis, whereas in the past funds were rarely and often inadequately raised to pay teachers for their services.
The Teacher Salary Support Program is currently a six-month pilot project, running until the end of 2013. BCP would be interested in institutionalizing this program if it continues to prove successful, and in the long term, our aim is to support necessary refurbishments and upgrades that would make the schools eligible for government recognition, which would improve their access to government funds and resources. Funds for the Teacher Salary Support Program were made possible by individual donations from warm-hearted friends and family of the BCP staff. Thank you for making this great program possible!