Everyone celebrates the end of the school year. But does it make sense to close a school completely down during vacation? In Zambia, a new ARDF project will expand the Teacher Training College at Fiwila Mission and offer agricultural training when the students are on holiday. This creative, flexible use facility will address two key needs of Zambians.
You might think of Zambia as a tourist destination. And indeed, many people visit Victoria Falls and the Zambezi river. However, Zambia is actually one of the poorest countries in the world, with a majority of people living on less than $2 a day. Those in the rural areas experience the deepest poverty and many Zambians rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
Learning from the past
Earlier attempts to improve the lot of farmers have not been successful. Farmers need to learn better farming practices, such as crop diversification and cultivation of indigenous livestock. It doesn’t help that many are illiterate. A shortage of effectively trained teachers means teacher-student ratios are high, making access to quality education in the rural areas very difficult.
The Anglican Diocese of Central Zambia will address both of these needs in a creative project focused on the Mkushi/Fiwila area, a part of Central Zambia that is far from the places tourist visit. Specifically, the church will improve its current facilities as a means of expanding opportunities for training both farmers and literacy teachers. It will allow the existing Teacher Training College to triple the intake of students, from 25 to 75.
Multi-purpose for multiple needs
Then, while the student teachers are on vacation, the church will use the improved facilities to train farmers. Initially, 25 farmers will participate in a residential program where they will learn new farming methods. After a month, they will return to their villages under the guidance of government extension workers. At the next school holiday, another 25 farmers will be trained, allowing for 75 farmers to be trained annually.
The church will also develop a 74-acre demonstration farm, in order to both train farmers and to plant marketable crops. The income will allow the church to continue the training.
The Zambian church has a successful track record in providing rural Zambians with opportunities. That this project can fulfill two needs—and be self sufficient after the initial capital investment—is worth celebrating!
In Their Own Words:
I received seeds and fertilizer from Anglican Diocese of Central Zambia that enabled me to plant [corn]. Because of the support, I harvested a lot more corn than before, invested in [a] simple drier, thus enabling me to store and sell some to earn income. This support greatly helped me and my family to produce enough food for the family. Without this kind of support, I would not have had enough food to eat in the coming year. I now sell the surplus food and [am] able to pay school fees and supplies for my children.
— Mrs. Katalika, Chikupili village, Central Zambia
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