Simon Mbewe is an English teacher at PEAS Kampinda Secondary School, in the Northern province of Zambia. Here he shares some of the reasons that make a PEAS school special.

He said: “This school is special in a lot of ways. This school is the only school that provides meals and lunch to all the students in school. Other schools only provide meals to boarders who pay but we feed all of our learners.

The reason is we understand for a child to concentrate in school a child has to have something in his or her stomach so that this child can pay attention when they are learning. And for us to keep a child in school from morning until 4pm, the child needs to eat.

This school is in a remote area where most of the children find it difficult to have three meals in a day. Hence it makes it a challenge for them to be in school the whole day. So, this school makes it special in that manner.

 Promoting children’s rights

Another reason why this school is special is that it promotes the child’s rights. The school has a child protection policy which is taken very seriously and it has seen a lot of students come here, and express difficulties they are receiving at home. They receive guidance to support them. We have situations where a child is being mistreated and they have no one to confide in so the school has provided that platform where a child is counselled and is given our help to support them. And we have also involved other stakeholders who can assist the child. That is why this school is very important.

 Access to quality education

I think in this area we only had one school which provided secondary education and that school only had the capacity of accommodating about 850 students. With PEAS Kampinda Secondary School, we have accommodated many students from the surrounding villages. This has brought a lot of relief to the community because children or students used to travel long distances to access education from this area.

I think the nearest school before was in Kasama town which was a 10 to 15-kilometre walk for children. Children used to walk every day early in the morning, they would wake up and start walking 15 kilometres to find the school. Now, this school has opened in the area, it has brought education closer to them and a lot of students have access to quality education.

The other thing which makes this school very important is we get students whom other schools would not take, as they have not done well. This school provides a platform for those students because they are the majority in this school. So, the school provides the support for those students to come to school and see how best we can help them.

This school is special in that we take students everyone has left and thinks they cannot do well. And when we get them, we introduce them to our formal planning, we provide them with intermediate classes, teach them how to read, give them literacy classes, and at the end of the day, we find that these students can perform well.  

People are surprised by how we do it. For example, I was a class teacher for some students who did not do well in other schools. Now, 14 of that class are in college. Five have even managed to get a 100 per cent scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education. And these are the children who people thought can’t do anything, and they left them to say they will not go to school. So those are some of the reasons why I can say this school is special.

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