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Growing a School

The first students to attend the little Kasaka community school when it opened back in 1987 probably wouldn’t recognize it now.

 Inside one of Kasaka Basic School's new classrooms
 Inside one of Kasaka Basic School's new classrooms.

The transformation first began in the early '90s, when the school’s numbers threatened to outgrow the facility. The Kasaka community worked with ChildFund to build additional classrooms, adding grades five to seven to the school’s original one through four and renaming it Kasaka Basic School. The children happily filled the new learning space, and school enrollment continued to grow. If the children continue beyond primary school, they go to the only high school within reach of Kasaka — eight miles away. The difficult trek is especially unsafe for girls, who are vulnerable to attack on the isolated rural roads.

Last year, with the school once more bursting at the seams, Kasaka and ChildFund again joined forces to further expand and enhance the learning environment. This time, construction included a two-by-two classroom block, a toilet and a science laboratory. The additions, at a cost of $85,000, allowed the school to add eighth and ninth grades and increased its enrollment from 400 to 700 students.

Kasaka teacher Lucy Nyirongo likes the new classrooms because students are much more comfortable and thus able to spend more time learning. “In the past, we used to have short classroom sessions so that we could accommodate as many pupils as possible,” she says. “But with the additional classroom blocks, this is now a thing of the past.”

Soon after completion, during a ceremony to mark the occasion, ChildFund Zambia handed over the school to the Zambian Ministry of Education, represented by Deputy Minister of Education Richard Taima. In his remarks, Taima praised the science lab in particular and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring nationwide access to basic education. ChildFund Zambia National Director Ely Keita spoke as well, offering a plea to the government to look into providing adequate and safe accommodations for the school’s 18 teachers, as well as a library.

I am happy to be here at Kasaka School because of the many works that are going on. We are the only basic school in the district to have a laboratory and a library. 
 
 - Davy, student 

Good things tend to attract more good things, so it wasn’t long before one of Keita’s wishes came true: Soon after the handover, an organization called Room to Read built a library and filled it with books and furniture. Now students have a quiet place to study or conduct research outside of class.

Davy, a student, says, “I am happy to be here at Kasaka School because of the many works that are going on. We are the only basic school in the district to have a laboratory and a library.”

Improvements didn’t stop there. Later in 2010, Zambia’s Standard Chartered Bank contributed nearly $5,000 to bring electricity to the school.

Petronella, an eighth-grader, is especially excited about that. “I am able to study even at night because of power,” she says. “I am as good as a pupil at a boarding school!”

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