ZAMBIA: New Salesian Early Childhood Education Center develops thanks to Salesian Missions donors
(MissionNewswire) Young children in the village of Lufubu, Zambia will have a new Salesian Early Childhood Education Center thanks to Salesian Missions donors. Many pre-school children in the village are left unattended during the day and roam around aimlessly. The Early Childhood Education Center will provide a safe, healthy learning environment for more than 100 pre-school aged children.
Donor funding is supporting the renovation of two existing classrooms and equipping them with age-appropriate furniture, supplies and learning materials to provide a strong foundation for future education. Early pre-school education provides the opportunity for these young children to access a school environment and learn early education fundamentals before primary school starts.
“Access to quality education provides a stepping stone out of poverty for youth,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The education received at the Early Childhood Education Center will allow children to easily transition to a nearby Salesian primary school and then later into secondary school where students can begin to focus on finding a career path and learning the skills needed to lead a productive life.”
Salesian missionaries have been providing programs in Zambia since missionaries from Poland first came to the country in 1982. From the beginning, Salesian missionaries worked in parishes serving mainly poor youth in need. Many Polish Salesian missionaries continue to work in Salesian programs across the country today. They are joined by Salesian priests from Zambia and other countries around the globe who are dedicated to giving poor youth and their families hope for a better future.
One of the most well-known Salesian programs in Zambia is the City of Hope which operates in Lusaka. The vast majority of children attending City of Hope programs are those who have been abused, live on the streets or are victims of child trafficking.
Currently, there are more than 800 students enrolled in the City of Hope’s Open Community School which serves those suffering from malnutrition, lack of education and family deprivation. Basic education is offered to youth between the ages of 9 and 17. Primary school classes make up the first four years after which students take the government’s grade seven examinations. Most City of Hope students do not have the opportunity to attend other schools because of a lack of financial means.
Poverty is widespread in Zambia with 64 percent of the total population living below the poverty line. For those living in rural areas, the poverty rate rises to 80 percent, according to UNICEF. Over the past three decades, incomes in Zambia have fallen steadily and people do not have enough money to meet basic needs such as shelter, nutritious food and medical care.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has also taken a devastating toll on Zambia’s children. There are 1.2 million children classified as orphaned and vulnerable by UNICEF, and these children struggle to find education, basic services and hope for their future.
UNICEF – Zambia