The commemoration of the Africa Freedom Day is a reminder of the struggles our continent endured in the fight for political freedom. The effort to break from political and social oppression precipitated by imperialistic ideals saw African countries coming together – breaking geographic boundaries to unite and fight for liberation, equality and human rights. Indeed this day marks a significant milestone in many African countries’ political change.
But as I celebrate and reflect on this day, I ask myself two questions: how did they do it? What lessons can today’s young global health leaders draw from our forefathers’ counter efforts to political and social inequalities?
Previously, a common problem – colonialism brought our forefathers from across African states to join hands in mutual understanding that the fight for liberation can only be realised through collected efforts. Similarly today social injustices including, the invasion of human rights, discrimination and violence creates an unfavourable atmosphere that deprives people of happy and healthier lives. As global health leaders dedicate their efforts to spearhead health equity, there can be no greater emphasis for us to transcend beyond our physical boundaries in order to create the change that we want to see.
Building strong and healthy communities across our continent requires us to share success stories, adopt best practices and learn from each other’s failures. Through research, volunteerism and the media together we raise a voice that exceeds our borders and connects us in such oneness of purpose – to build a healthier future for ourselves the next generation.
Just like our forefathers, we need to develop a motto of leaving no one behind in our quest for social justice and health equity. For instance, even when other countries had gained their independence, they still rallied behind those that had not yet been liberated. What I learn here is that change and freedom are never complete or even satisfactory when others are still under the coat of deprivation. Yes my country is sovereign but I don’t feel safe. I won’t feel safe until there are zero new infections of HIV in Africa. I won’t feel safe until my uncle in Chief Ndake’s village can have ready access to healthcare services without his income being an issue, and certainly not when one third of women in the world experience physical, sexual, psychological and economical violence.
If we believe that health is a human right that should be enjoyed by all without any bias to gender, sex, race or social economic status then there is a call to be each other’s keeper, to gain satisfaction from the joy of others even if it is not our own. Above all to sacrifice our time, skills and money to help others come to the same happy place that we are enjoying or trying to create.
I’m thankful to our forefathers for having laid a foundational model for my generation to drive Africa to greater heights in better health.
Happy Africa Freedom Day!
The study aims to discuss the controversy surrounding the definition of an aged person. Second, the study will highlight some of the challenges faced by the aged in Africa with a particular focus of Zambia. Thereafter a conclusion will be established.
Who is an aged person?
In both the theory and practice of gerontology, establishing a universally accepted definition of an aged person has been a borne of controversy among scholars and practitioners. Because of this, the definition of an aged person or rather “old age” has come to be viewed as an ideological and contextual concept. What this means then, is that the boundary between middle age and old age cannot be defined exactly because it does not have the same meaning in all societies. People can be considered old because of certain changes in their activities or social roles (Aging in Africa, 2007).
For instance, people may be considered old when they become grandparents, or when they begin to do less or different work after retirement. In the United States and the United Kingdom, the age of 65 is considered the beginning of old age because, until recently, people in the United States and Britain became eligible for retirement at that age with full social security benefits. In Zambia, despite the fact that the retirement age was recently set at 65, the government policy on aging still defines an aged person as one who is 60 years of age.
Ageing in Africa (2005) stated that where ‘‘old age’’ starts from is not precisely defined and this makes comparisons between studies and between countries difficult. In Western societies, the onset of older age is usually considered to coincide with the age of retirement, at 60 or 65 years of age. In most developing countries, however, this socially constructed concept based on retirement age has little significance. What is more significant in these countries are the roles assigned to people in their lifetime.
Old age is thus regarded as that time of life when people, because of physical decline, can no longer carry out their family or work roles. In spite of not having a precise definition of the beginning of “old age”, Chanda (2011), talked of age categorisation as a process of classifying people as belonging to a certain age group and by implication not to other age groups. In contrast, Habjanic (2009) felt that socially and psychologically, the use of age categorisation can be highly problematic because it would cause people to restrict their own horizons based on ageist assumptions (for example, they would see themselves as ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ to pursue particular activities or roles). For this reason, the very act of categorising others into different age groups and the way people define those groups has significant implications for people’s choices and actions.
Apart from viewing ageing as a process of categorising people into different age groups, Sichingabula, (2000) brought out the gerontologists’ definition of old age. She stated that the gerontologists define ageing in terms of four distinct processes, i.e., chronological ageing, biological ageing, psychological ageing, and sociological ageing. Chronological ageing is defined based on a person’s years lived from birth. Biological ageing refers to the physical changes that reduced the efficiency of organ systems. Psychological ageing includes the changes that occur in sensory and perceptual processes, cognitive abilities, adaptive capacity, and personality. Sociological ageing refers to an individual’s changing roles and relationships with family, friends, and other informal supports, productive roles and within organisations.
The United Nations on the other hand defined older people as those aged 60 years and above. However, the definition of old age by African communities also differed from that of the developed countries. In several African set ups, the United Nations’ definition was inappropriate or irrelevant. In rural situations, where birth registration is poor or even unknown, physical features are mostly used to determine the person’s age. The colour of a person’s hair, failing eyesight and diseases such as arthritis are some of the determining features used to define an older person (Ageing in Africa (2007).
Kamwengo (2001) gave another definition of old age. He defines an aged person as one who is 60 years and above. He added that some people tied a negative connotation to old age while to others it meant being full of wisdom and more knowledgeable, more skilled and more experienced. More complex definitions take in a host of social and cultural issues which include, for instance, the person’s seniority status within his or her community and the number of grandchildren which he or she had.
Challenges faced by the aged in Africa and Zambia
Meanwhile, old age in itself does not come without any hardships. The aged in Africa and Zambian in particular, face a number of challenges. Although data on the actual poverty levels among older people in the region is hard to find, Ageing in Africa (2007), purports that older persons are most affected by poverty. They are the poorest of the poor and receive little support from family members who themselves are struggling to survive the harsh prevailing economic situation on the continent. Most of them hardly generate enough income with which to meet their basic needs. Some have no sources of income at all and the result is physical weakness, isolation, exclusion and low self esteem (Ageing in Africa, 2005).
Mapoma (2013) observed that the work and contribution of the aged to the families and communities is unrecognized and unrewarded in most cases. This statement is true in the case of Zambia, considering the fact that majority of the aged in both rural and urban areas cannot easily find employment in the formal sector due to the fact that they are considered too old to work. In the same vein, the private sector cannot employ them due to the fact that this sector is more interested in the young people whom they consider to be vibrant and energetic to handle the pressure which the sector is accustomed to.
Further, Kamwengo (2001) observed that the aged are faced with challenges such as childlessness and cultural taboos associated with ageing such as, associating old age with witchcraft. Some of them are not able to trace their families or remember their villages mainly because of urbanisation or illness. Still others remain without families to look after them. In regards to retirees, their situation is made worse by delayed pension benefits. A study conducted by Mapoma (2011) reviewed that some retirees in Lusaka and Chongwe had been waiting to receive their pension benefits for as long as ten years since their retirement. Unfortunately others have not lived long enough to enjoy the fruits of their service to the country.
Changala, Mbozi and Kasonde-Ng’andu (2015) have also reviewed that lack of accommodation remains a profound challenge faced by the aged in Zambia’s old people’s homes today. Ndonyo (2011) stated that the conditions in old people’s homes in Zambia were deplorable, underfinanced and in most instances overcrowded. Not only is lack of accommodation a challenge faced by the aged in old people’s homes but those that are in the community as well. In fact many of the aged in old people’s homes are there due to lack of shelter. Therefore the facilities become a place of refuge, protection and comfort.
Another major challenge faced by the aged in old people’s homes in Zambia is boredom arising from lack of creative activities such as crafts, art, exercises, games as well as education to keep them intellectually stimulated and engaged (Changala, Mbozi and Kasonde-Ng’andu, 2015). This phenomenon is also predominant in many communities. It is quite common to find recreational facilities such as play parks mostly established to meet the needs of the youths but never the aged. The inability to provide creative activities and education to the aged in old people’s homes could be attributed to the fact that some people, including caregivers, think that the aged would not be interested in participating in such activities because they may lack the energy, interest and motivation to do so.
Lack of health facilities still remains a remarkable challenge faced by the aged in Zambia today. Ndonyo (2011) indicated that residents in old people’s homes in Zambia had no provision for medical support staff such as physicians, nurses, nutritionists or dieticians and medical social workers attached to them. Most health centres especially in rural areas are located quite some distance away from the communities, making it difficult for the aged to access them, especially those with physical and mobility challenges. In addition, most cases of the elderly insane are usually attributed to acts of witchcraft rather than medical conditions. The ideal situation, therefore, would be where the aged have easy and quick access to medical services within or near their communities because some of them may have health conditions due to advanced age (Changala, Mbozi and Kasonde-Ng’andu, 2015).
The definition of an aged person has been a centre of contention in both the theory and practice of gerontology. Therefore “old age” is an ideological and contextual concept because different societies define ageing differently. The United Nations, as with the Zambian government uses 60 years as the standard of an aged person. However, in contemporary African societies ageing is usually attributed to social roles and physiological factors factors such as; becoming a Grandparent, or the appearance of Grey hair. The aged are also faced with challenges such as lack of health facilities, lack of educational and recreational activities, poverty, lack of shelter, community ageing stereotypes, and delayed pensions for retirees. This study is of great significance as understanding the definition of old age and the challenges faced by the aged becomes the foundation of formulating policies and interventions that address the real needs of the aged.
Ageing in Africa (2005). Millennium Development Goals Must Target US, Say Oder People.
Help Age International.
Ageing in Africa (2007). Older People and HIV/AIDS: Facts and Figures. Help Age
Chanda, H. C. (2011). A comparative study of survival strategies used by the aged in rural and urban areas: a case of Chongwe and Lusaka districts. Master Research Thesis: University of Zambia, Department of Adult Education and Extension Studies.
Changala, M., Mbozi, E. H., Kasonde-Ng’andu S. (2015). Challenges faced by the aged in old people’s homes in Zambia, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, 2 (7) 223-227.
Habjanic, A. (2009). Quality Institutional Elderly Care in Slovenia, PhD Dissertation. Slovenia: University of Oulu, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nursing Science.
Kamwengo, M. M. (2001). Ageing and the Elderly in Zambia: Perspectives and Issues. New Delhi: Sterling International.
Mapoma, C. C. (2013). Population Ageing in Zambia: Magnitude, Challenges and Determinants. PhD Dissertation. Zambia: University of Zambia, Department of Population Studies.
Ndonyo, R. L. (2011). Situational Analysis of Healthy Ageing Programme in Zambia: A Report for the World Health Organisation. Lusaka: UNZA School of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine
Sichingabula, Y. M. (2000). An Environmental Assessment of Divine Providence Home in
Lusaka, Zambia, Southern African Journal of Gerontology, 9 (1) 25-29.
The primary essence of this study was to use a generative theme identified through a listening survey in the community to show how Paulo Freire’s conscientization process can be applied to transform the community. To achieve that, the study will give an understanding of the concept of conscientization. This will be followed by description of what generative themes are. Next, the study will outline the generative themes generated through the listening survey. In concluding, it will present the identified ‘code’ that can be adapted to foster transformation of the community.
The concept of conscientization
Conscientization also known as ‘critical consciousness’ is a popular education and social concept developed by Brazilian pedagogue and educational theorist Paulo Freire, grounded in post-Marxist critical theory (Shor, 1993). Critical consciousness focuses on achieving an in depth understanding of the world, allowing for the perception and exposure of social and political contradictions. Critical consciousness also includes taking action against the oppressive elements in one’s life that are illuminated by that understanding (Freire, 1976).
Conscientization or critical consciousness proceeds through the identification of ‘generative themes’, which Freire identifies as ‘iconic representations that have a powerful emotional impact in the daily lives of leaners.’in this vain, individual consciousness encompassing dialogue, cultural synthesis, community and cultural circles, and informed actions has been instrumental in breaking the culture of silence in which the socially dispossessed (deprived, destitute, distressed) people internalized the negative images of themselves created and propagated by the oppressor in situation of extreme poverty and marginalization.
Conscientization also refers to a type of learning which is focused on perceiving and exposing social, political and economic contradictions and injustices. Conscientization also includes taking actions against oppressive elements in one’s life as part of that learning (Freire, 1972).
Concept of generative themes
Generative themes are issues that stir up people’s energies to act because they are emotionally affected. If one is apathetic about something, one is likely to do something about it. Generative themes are issues such that, when they are revealed, they affect people emotionally; they infuse fear, anger, worry, joy, sorrow or excitement. Freire argues that much of the education has tried to ignore human feelings and concentrated much on reasons and actions yet it is the feelings that mobilize people’s energy to act- emotion and act link. This means anything must be on what people are emotionally affected (Freire, c1998). Generative themes in short are Burning Issues which the community is facing.
Generative themes generated through listening survey
The University of Zambia is quite a vast and dynamic community. It would be almost impossible to fully exhaust all the burning issues that are being faced, at least not their entirety. However, this study was able to establish, from the listening survey, three of some of the most common burning issues. These are: Poor Sanitation, Electrical-power Scarcities, and Politics: UNZASU Elections.
Poor Sanitation (most pressing issue)
According to information conducted from 26 informants (students), sanitation levels around campus have become worrisome. Even though this problem is not new in discussion, the propensity at which students are affected leaves much to be desired. Some students have narrated that due to the scarcity of water in their hostels, there is already fear for the possible breakout of water borne diseases.
Still others have expressed disappointment regarding the response given to them by Resident Engineers after reporting water problems. They mentioned that at one time shower drains were blocked and apparently the showers were not tightly closed. So in the middle of the night the tabs were flooded causing the flood to run into student rooms. Even though a report was filled the next morning to the relevant authorities, no response was given.
Meanwhile, other informants narrated their disappointment with their fellow students regarding the violation of sanitation rules set by Hall Representatives. Usually, students in hostels formulate a set of rules regarding the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of sanitation conduct. For example, the rules that everyone must leave the Sink clean after washing their dishes. Unfortunately, others choose not to abide by these rules which tend to anger other students.
The following information was collected from 17 informants. The past few weeks have been characterized by shortages in power supply in selected hostels around campus. For a student populace where electricity is not only used as a source of lighting but heating and other miscellaneous, this issue has been received with mixed emotions. During the survey, it was heard that some students were not able to iron their clothes much worse cook because of the power shortages. The predicament was even exacerbated in the night when it was dark as it made it difficult for students to clearly study from their hostels.
Much worse, the power shortages created an opportunity for theft activities. Some devious individuals apparently took advantage of the dark to steal other people’s property. Items such as Laptops, books, clothing, and gadgets worth thousands have been stolen, mostly during power scarcity hours. Even though the students have been assured by Resident Engineers that the problem will be addressed and rectified, the anticipation for the solution is slowly fading to the extension that some students are thinking of evoking a demonstration regarding the matter.
On a different experience, one student was admitted to the clinic due to an electrical shock. Apparently the shock was caused by a high voltage but it wasn’t fatal. Power shortages have also affected the water supply in many hostels. Some informants complained of water scarcity in the entire block hostel for a period of five days. Students have to utilize taps from other hostels for their domestic water uses. The scarcity of water in these hostels has also led to other sanitation concerns as well.
Politics: UNZASU elections
The academic year is coming to an end in a few months. According to the UNZA culture, it is time for UNZA elections. Clearly over-hearing this as a hot topic of discussion is quite inevitable, especially among students. One thing that established during the survey was that some students have lost confidence in the Students’ Union. As one student narrated to say “most of them will smile at you during campaigning period but after they are ushered into office they won’t even great you.” This was also echoed by other students who expresses disappointment during regarding the way the students union handled the matter of the price of the new graduating gowns classify the union’s response as ‘a total failure.’
Some adult education students have also expressed disappointment regarding the performance of the current UNZASU president. According to one adult education student, the fact that the current UNZASU president is an adult education student requires that he portrays high standards of competence and maturity as to complement the principles of an adult educator. Meanwhile, other adult education students have complimented the performance of the current UNZASU president saying that he has good qualities of an adult educator.
In related accounts, students are looking forward to candidates that will leave up to their campaign promises and moral statutes. Some informants have narrated disappointment regarding the behavior of current Union members grading their behavior as irresponsible and disappointing. Meanwhile, some students feel that participating in the next Union elections is a shear waste of time. There discussion was based on the premise that, according to them, all UNZASU candidates are the same; they seek Union positions just to uplift their own standards.
According to Freire transformation comes about from praxis (reflection and action), dialogue, debate, and problem posing approach. In short a transformed individual or community is a critically conscious one (Hope and Timmel, 1999). In order to achieve conscientization, there is need to develop a coding or schematization system that will enable the intransitive individuals to become aware of their problem or oppression.
In the intransitive consciousness, human beings do not believe in their powers to change their lives or their societies. In the intransitive consciousness, there is no human agent for change. These intransitive conscious persons always accept the status quo and accept everything because they consider themselves powerless and feeble.
In order to transform an intransitive conscious person into transitive or critical conscious person, Freire suggested the process of conscientisation. Central to this process are Dialogue, Praxis, Critical reflection, Debate and the Problem posing approach, which uses the concept of Generative Themes.
Therefore, in order to raise awareness about Poor Sanitation (generative theme) among the UNZA community. This study has resolved to adopt the Poem as a codification system.
Sanitation: Master, am I hygienic?
A dirtiness, you never were!
A tidiness, you have been!
A filth, you were not!
A health, you will eternally be!
To sanitation you offered this thanks,
When needing something like cleanliness
When writing and drawing blanks,
You always settled for sanitariness
You were always in search for more; you sang the praise of hygiene!
It’s you they all adored,
But where have you gone wrong?
Today you have left the responsibility of your sanitary and cleanliness entirely in the hands of a stranger, why?
Where is your song of hygiene? Where is your pride?
In conclusion, it is envisaged that through the above code, the community can be conscientized about their responsibility towards their own sanitation. Instead of relying on the stranger (third person) students can ensure that they take necessary steps to safe guarding their own health. Suffice to say that the code can only lead to community transformation when debate, dialogue, and praxis are initiated together with the community.
Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin
Freire, P. (1976). Education, the Practice of Freedom. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative.
Freire, P. (c1998). Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire, AMA (notes), Barr, RR (tr). New York: Continuum.
Hope, A. and Timmel, S. (1999). Training for Transformation Vol 4. London: I
Shor, I. (1993). Education is Politics: Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy. New York: Routledge
Examining The Criteria Of Non-Formal Learning Institutions In Lusaka: A Study Of Three Non-Formal Learning Institutions
The education system currently in practice in Zambia has created a pyramidal structure of education that is not compatible with efforts to achieve education for all (EFA) goals as it “throws-away” many pupils out of the educational systems. The majority of those thrown away do not fail as such but are “pushed” or “squeezed” out of the education systems (Serpell, 1993).
Those pushed out especially at primary school level, have no survival skills to enable them manage themselves in the community. The Zambian government seems to be taking appropriate measures to address the plight of the out- of- school youths and adults through various non-formal educational (NFE) programmes.
The government, through various ministries, departments, Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) and the church, considers expanding non-formal education to include the so-called drop, ‘pushed’ and ‘squeezed’ outs so that they are given second chance opportunities (MOE, 2006). There are several government ministries and organizations that offer NFE programmes and activities.
The prime purpose of this study is to examine three non-formal education learning centres and discuss how each one of them qualifies to be non-formal in terms of staffing, enrolment, timetable, curriculum, infrastructure and sponsorship of learners. Before delving in to the main discussion, it is imperative to firstly understand the concept of non-formal education, taking cognizance of the characteristics and criteria of a non-formal education learning institution.
Definition and characteristics of non-formal education
Kelly (1999) describes non-formal education as any organized activity outside the established formal system- whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity- that is intended to serve identifiable learning clientele and learning objectives. UNESCO (2001) adds that non-formal education refers to any organized and sustained educational activities that do not correspond to the definition of formal education.
Non-formal education may therefore take place both within and outside educational institutions, and cater to persons of all ages. Further, depending on country contexts, it may cover educational programmes to impart adult literacy, basic education for out-of school children, life skills, work –skills, and general culture. Non-formal education programmes do not necessarily follow the ‘ladder’ system, and may have differing durations, and may or may not confer certification of the learning achieved. Its flexibility in terms of time, place, age, enrolment, and delivery method is perhaps the most significant characteristic of non-formal education.
Non-formal Education Learning Centres Studied
As earlier stated, in Zambia NFE activities are implemented by various government ministries and departments as well as non-governmental organizations, Cooperative partners, the church and communities themselves.
In this treatise, three non-formal learning institutions were considered, namely: TICO Community Centre, Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project, and Kalingalinga Youth Resource Centre. The paper shall discuss and show how these learning centres qualify to be non-formal in their criteria. In discussion, a brief background of the learning centre will be given. Thereafter, an outline of the institution’s criteria in the provision of its programmes will be outlined.
TICO Community Centre
TICO community centre was founded in 1997 by Tokushima International Cooperation (TICO). The objective of the project was to improve the health and nutrition conditions of mothers with malnourished children in Ng’ombe Compound. The project was an initiative of a Japanese doctor, Dr. Yoshida who wanted to alleviate the health conditions of malnourished children in Ng’ombe compound by providing lessons in food and nutrition for mothers.
In 1999, Tokushima International Cooperation began to fund the project, hence the name ‘TICO’. In 2002, the centre was handed over to the management team and today, local staffs operate in a manner of self-reliance from generating incomes the through formal school that runs from Pre-school to Grade 7.
Later on, need was seen to not only empower the women in nutrition and hygiene but to empower them with life surviving skills which they could use to sustain themselves and their children. Hence, new programmes were since introduced namely; tailoring and tie and dye. Today, the centre offers a total of four (4) non-formal training programmes and a formal school establishment that runs from pre-school to Grade 7. The non-formal training programmes include: tie and dye, Food processing, tailoring and, health and nutrition.
Admission for the non-formal training programmes is open to both male and female. In fact enrolment is not restricted to any age group. The programmes can be accessed by youths, men, women and any interested members of the community. This is in the bid to empower as many members of the community as possible with life surviving skills and knowledge in issues of health, sanitation and hygiene.
The centre has one enrolment per year, which mostly takes place between January and March. The Time-Table is structured in such a way that leaners have two classes per week on days which they themselves decide. This is so to suite the availability of learners as most of them are adults who are working. The classes are usually conducted in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, unlike TEVETA registered learning centres, TICO community centre, except for the formal school (grade 1 – 7), has its own curriculum. Tailoring for example, has a total of 14 courses which are covered within the duration of six (6) month duration, while health and nutrition have four (4) month duration. At the end of the duration, learners sit for their final examinations, which are prepared by the instructors. In order to ensure quality assurance, instructors from other learning centres are involved in the examination process.
TICO Community centre has a total of four instructors (4) most of whom are voluntary Nurses and teachers who instruct in health, nutrition and hygiene, and skilled tailors who instruct in tailoring and tie and dye. Much of the funds that come from the formal school are channeled to pay teachers’ upkeep and purchasing of ingredients and learning materials.
In terms of fees structure, students are only required to contribute for the purchasing of ingredients and materials which are used for practical work, except for tailoring which has a tuition fee of K 365.00 upon admission. In exception of Tailoring, the rest of the programmes are almost free of charge.
Today, TICO Community centre has built quite a reputation. In fact the institution has achieved its objective of reducing the number of malnourished children in Ng’ombe compound, through the education of the mothers in health, nutrition and hygiene. Most of the graduates in health and nutrition have been deployed by Ministry of Health as Community Health Workers. This is one of the greatest achievements the institution has achieved.
In Zambia today, the AIDS crisis continues. After many years of fighting this virus, Zambia still has 15% of adults infected, and 800,000 AIDS orphans (MOE, 2003). The most affected being women and children.
Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project
In response to this consequence, Chikumbuso women and Orphans project was established by Linda Wilkinson, in 2005. Chikumbuso is a grassroots project in Ng’ombe, Lusaka that provides alternative lifestyle to the most vulnerable women and children in the township who are affected by the AIDS pandemic.
Chikumbuso provides free schooling for the children, as well as adult training and capacity building, income generation activities and community building programmes. It is located on 01/BP/04 Old Ng’ombe residence. Chikumbuso is a community initiative and is now a registered charity organization in the United States of America (USA).
The project reaches out in particular to widows, orphans, young single mothers, young men and grandmothers. Many grandmothers in Ng’ombe compound are left with their orphaned grandchildren due to HIV/AIDS and other causes of early death. These women are often unable to work and struggle to feed and clothe their grandchildren.
Chikumbuso community centre provides them with skills in Tailoring, Food processing/cooking and craftwork. In the community centre are 73 widows who work on a micro enterprise that brings them back to life economically and socially. The widows are equipped with craft skills that involve making crocheted plastic bags. In the tailoring room are 30 young adults who have left the streets of the slum to come and learn new life long skills in both tailoring and cooking.
Chikumbuso community centre provides free training for all its learners. This is because the centre responds to, and aims at addressing the needs of the most vulnerable groups in the community. The main objective therefore is to empower as many vulnerable women and young adults as possible within the Centre’s capability. The learners are instructed by skilled instructors some of whom are volunteers. The learners produce their products e.g. crocheted plastic bags from the craft room, and clothes from the tailoring room. These products are then sold on the market. Part of the profit is used to pay the instructors’ salaries while the rest is put in the learners’ savings account for their upkeep and tuition fees.
Today, Chikumbuso community Centre has made it possible for vulnerable groups, especially widows, young mothers, and young men who have had little or no formal school education to make a living through basic training in life surviving skills. Many grandmothers in Ng’ombe compound today, are able to provide their grandchildren with food and other social amenities through the production of crocheted plastic bags. Some young adults have used their skills in tailoring to generate enough funds to enable them get back into formal school and continue their education.
Kalingalinga Youth Resource Centre
Kalingalinga Youth Resource Centre (KYRC) is one of the 16 Youth Resource Centres run by the Government through the ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development. This means that the centre is typically a public institution. It is the only government Youth Centre based in Lusaka Urban, located on plot no: 16798 Mass media, Lusaka. The centre stated its operation in 2001.
It is now abundantly clear that Zambia, like many other developing countries, cannot achieve EFA goals through the formal education system alone (Preece, 2007). There is need to develop other alternative forms of education such as non-formal education. Lungwangwa (1999) noted that illiteracy rates among the youth 14-20 years were higher than those for older persons between 21-30 years and 31-45 years. In his opinion, if the majority of the youth 14-20 were in school, illiteracy rate would have been lowest as it is this group that should benefit of basic education offered in school. Therefore, non-formal education derives its importance in Zambia from limited capacity of the formal school system.
For this reason, Kalingalinga Youth Resource centre was established with the primary objective of developing a Zambian society with young people that will be versatile, creative, employable, entrepreneurial, and provide quantitative training for imparting appropriate life skills to the young people which is relevant to the socio-economic development. The centre offers training in the following programmes; Tailoring and designing – fabric/ printing (Tie and Dye), Carpentry and joinery, Entrepreneurship, Catering/Food Production, Metal fabrication and Welding, Family life education, sporting activities and Computer/ I.C.T.
In terms of admission of learners, the centre recognizes the following categories of people; any interested young person aged 15-35 years. School levers (Grade 7, 9, and 12). Those who have never been to school but have interest in life skills, -entrepreneurs -both formal and informal sectors. Kalingalinga Youth Resource centre has one enrolment annually, which is comprised of about 240 students from all programmes.
The centre is TEVETA registered. Therefore, the curriculum, examinations and all assessments are organized and conducted by TEVETA. The centre has a total of 25 instructors, some of whom are members of the community who are experience in trades such as metal fabrication and welding, and carpentry. In fact, the institution’s board is comprised of representatives from the community. This is because members of the community understand their needs better than anyone else and can therefore advise the institution on how best to go about in addressing these needs.
The time table is structured in such a way that leaners have 8 hours of learning every day from 08:00 to 16:00. However, special arrangements are made to have classes in the evening (17:00 – 19:00) for those are not able to attend classes during the day. This is due to the fact that most students are workers and adults that have a pool of responsibilities to attend to during the day. All courses have duration of 9 months. Upon completion, successful candidates are awarded a TEVETA certificate.
It has been argued that those who are thrown out by the formal education, especially at primary school level, are the future illiterate adults (Serpell, 1993; Kelly, 1999). This scenario has made the Zambian government, through various ministries, departments, Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) and the church consider expanding NFE to include the so-called drop, ‘pushed’ and ‘squeezed’ outs so that they are given second chance opportunities (MOE, 1996)
The three learning centres above are very important to this discussion. Not only do they convey the work and initiatives developed by Government and the community in the provision of non-formal education but present the criteria of non-formal learning institutions. From the above discussion, it is evident that all three learning institutions are quite flexible in their operations, which is one of the most significant characteristic of any non-formal programme or institution. For example, there is no age restriction in the admission of learners in all centres. Secondly, in the case of Chikumbuso, learners acquire the knowledge and skills but are not accredited or certified. Another common characteristic is that the time table in all three centres is fixed to suite the availability of learners. In short leaners determine when and what time to meet for learning unlike formal education where the time table is determined by the teacher or the governing body.
Further, in all the three centers, it is seen that the curriculum is structured to address the learning needs and desires of the learners. It is more targeted and goal-oriented unlike the formal school curriculum that has a lot of irrelevant subjects. The knowledge and skills acquired in areas such as welding, tailoring, carpentry and ICT is used immediately. In conclusion, unlike in a formal learning institution, leaners in a non-formal institution can pay in kind as is the case with Chikumbuso Community Centre. It is therefore without doubt that the three learning centres in study are non-formal institutions in nature.
Kelly, J. M. (1999). The Origin and Development of Education in Zambia from Pre-colonial Times to 1996. Lusaka: Image Publishers Limited.
Lungwangwa, G. (1999). “Meeting the Basic Learning needs for out-of School children and youth through Education Broadcasting: A necessary step.” Paper presented at the National Symposium on Education Broadcasting for out of school children and youth, 19th April, 1999.
Ministry of Education (1996). Educating Our Future. National Policy on Education. Lusaka: Zambia Education Publishing House.
Ministry of Education (2003). Zambia Basic Education Syllabi Grades 1-7. Lusaka: Curriculum Development Centre.
Ministry of Education (2006). Draft Upper Basic School Curriculum Framework. Lusaka: Curriculum Development Centre.
Preece, J. (2007). “Non-Formal Education for Social Justice and Inclusion in Developing Countries.” Paper presented at UNESCO Centre for Continuing Education Research Seminar at Nottingham University 7th Feb, 2007.
UNESCO (2001). An Expanded Vision of Basic Education: Situation Review in nine Countries. Paris: UNESCO
Nelson Mandela once said, “Children will get the kind of education that their Parents want”. That is why today, every parent wants their child to go to the best schools, be taught by the best teachers and get the best grades. Quite frankly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Parents wanting the best for their children. The idea is that when children attend the best schools, they will become whole-rounded individuals, who are responsible and respectable members of society, capable of contributing to the wellbeing of the family. The intent is good. However, the responsibility is often misplaced.
Today’s Parents have become so engulfed with wanting their children to get into the best schools that they have neglected their role as teachers of their own children. Instead, they have entrusted the education of their children entirely in the hands of the school teacher. It is true that teachers are specially trained to impart knowledge but the education of our children goes beyond the ABCs. In fact, it goes beyond the school teacher and the standard school curriculum.
Quite often, Parents tend to blame teachers for the lower academic performance of children in school. But rarely do they take time to question their own contribution to the performance of the child. How many Parents, for instance, take time to teach their children well founded family values such as; self-respect, discipline, hard work, tolerance and punctuality?
There is also need in a liberal economy to respect both private and public property. How many Parents take time to find out who their children are mixing with, what programs are they watching on TV, the kind of books they are reading, what they are surfing on the internet? How many of us go to interact with teachers to our children to understand how the children are performing in school and what kind of support they require from the Parents.
It has also been noted with concern a trend by Parents of using the shopping malls as baby sitters for very young children especially over the weekend. It is the absence of guidance from Parents and society as a whole that has failed our children and this is manifested in early marriages, children dropping out of school, alcohol and substance abuse and generally young people coming into conflict with the law. Parents seem to be too busy trying to make ends-meat that they have turned schools into merely depositories of their children.
Involvement in the education of children goes beyond settling of tuition fees or getting our sons and daughters into the best schools. Parents should come to understand and realize that they are the first teachers to their own children. In the hands of Parents has been placed, both by society and nature, the sole responsibility of nurturing children into the norms and values of society.
In the Christian Bible, the duty of every parent is vividly stressed in the words of Solomon, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” This language is positive. The training which Solomon enjoins is to direct, educate, and develop. In order for Parents and teachers to do this work, they must themselves understand “the way” the child should go. This embraces merely having knowledge of books. It takes in everything that is good, virtuous, righteous, and holy. In order to attain this object, the physical, mental, and religious education of children must have attention.
Parents should take lead to not only be “bread winners” but role models, companions and mentors to their children. Understandably, balancing the multiple demands of work and family is one of the biggest challenges for most families. However, this should not serve as an excuse for the mother to give up her duty of moulding her daughter into the woman society demands, into the hands of the maid. Nor should the father abandon his leadership role as the “head teacher” of the home.
I believe every parent is a lesson book to his or her child. The behaviours, habits, mannerisms, failures and accomplishments and all aspects of personality of the parent are topics in that book. It is up to you as a mother or father to decide what kind of lessons you want your children to draw from you and what lessons you are giving to them. Sociologists tell us that experiences within the family help determine the type of person an individual becomes. What children learn in school is meant for career practice but what they learn from home, from their parents, defines who they become in life.
National Assembly Debate (Thursday, 11 November 2010). Ministerial Statement by Hon. Siliya, Minister of Education.
White G. Ellen. Education.