2019 has begun with excitement among students in Nyimba district who are benefitting from improved access and quality of education in nine villages in the district.
Communities in Nyimba have historically had a difficult time meeting the education needs of their growing population. With teacher training taking place in main centers such as Lusaka, it can be challenging to attract teachers to work in rural areas that are often difficult to access and lack some comforts and facilities city-dwellers may be used to.
Housing for teachers throughout Nyimba has been a key challenge for the district and one that this year, communities are addressing thanks to conservation fees received for their REDD+ habitat protection activities.
So far this year, communities in Luembe Chiefdom have completed construction of seven teacher’s houses to support recruitment of new teachers for seven schools in the district.
The teacher shortage in Nyimba has previously caused dire classroom over-crowding, with up to 60 pupils participating in each class. The net result is lower quality education outcomes for local students, who are not able to receive adequate teacher attention to support their learning.
Construction of the houses cost the communities 210,000 zmk (US $17,300) – an amount that would have been out of reach for the communities were it not for the conservation fee income.
Further education investments in the area are also improving student enrollment, with a double classroom block constructed for Mkoma Primary School in Nyalugwe Chiefdom. Prior to this, students were sitting outdoors in the weather during their lessons, which had led to poor enrollment and attendance levels. Now that safe classrooms with protection from the weather are available, enrollments at the school are the highest they’ve ever been, with 82 boys and 42 girls regularly attending.Education improvement has been identified as a primary development need by community leaders and members, who all have opportunity to participate in decisions around the use of their conservation fee income. It is hoped that improved education for the next generation of community members will improve livelihood opportunities and the local economy in years to come.