Over a year ago, Mwalawatongole School had over 800 learners, over half of which used to learn under trees and in a temporary shelter because the school had only four permanent classrooms. Absenteeism of the learners was at its peak especially in the rainy and cold seasons when persistent rains, wet environment and cold weather disturbed classes. The parents, as most primary schools have to be constructed by the community, couldn’t manage to build more permanent classes due to financial constraints. All they could afford was to make bricks and gather sand for construction and hoped one day, someone or a donor would come forth and partner with them to build more classrooms at the school.
Little did they know that a ray of hope would come with a kind British couple, who were guests at Tongole Wilderness Lodge, in September 2011. Out of curiosity, the couple requested to visit the nearest school to the lodge and in there own words:
“We found pupils learning under a shade but the enthusiasm of the pupils and the teachers were great. We were touched by the lack of resources in the school. We decided to make a small difference to the education of the children at the school.”
They decided to provide financial support to build two new classrooms with teachers’ and Headmasters’ house in between through the Tongole Foundation, a charity arm of the Tongole Wilderness Lodge. Desks were also provided for the two classrooms and teachers’ office. The Tongole Wilderness Lodge has also been supporting two other schools in the area, namely Chankhokwe and Wozi with educational materials such as exercise books, blackboard chalk, pens and pencils and footballs.
Improvements to Mwalawatongole School are beginning to bear fruits. Speaking at the new school handover ceremony, the head teacher, Mr. Hendrix Mtonga said:
“The new school block has reduced the number of classes learning under the shade. Six classes now are learning in a good environment and only two under the shade. Teachers will now be planning their lessons well and school materials will be kept safe in the office.”
Hendrix also adds:
“The school is attracting many pupils now. Fourteen pupils were selected to secondary school last year and we are planning to send double the number this year.”