More Classrooms

October 27 2019 | by


IN THE Catholic Diocese of Solwezi, Zambia, the bishop, the Rt. Rev. Charles J.S. Kasonde, has high hopes for the future of children educated in Catholic schools there. “Education is one of the priorities in the Strategic Plan of the Diocese to help our orphaned and vulnerable children to be in school and to educate our young generation with Gospel Values,” he wrote in 2018 in support of a project to complete two classrooms at Saint Daniel’s Nursery and Primary School. “We hope that in the future we shall have better leaders imbued with a Catholic ethos who can help support the growth of our Church and our country as a whole. But this is only possible if we have our own Catholic schools.”


Young diocese


The diocese is relatively young, having been established in 1976. It covers a vast area of over 125 thousand square kilometres, the entire political-geographical North-Western Province of Zambia. The population of the province is just over 727,000, with around 120,000 of those Catholic. The diocese is predominantly rural and the population poor, the majority relying on small scale farming. Among the crops cultivated are maize, millet, sorghum, beans, sweet potatoes, rice, cassava, peanuts, pineapples and bananas. There are some mining companies, but very few people from the North-Western Province itself are employed in the industry as they lack the necessary skills. The diocese is also home to a large number of refugees from Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda as a result of political disturbances and civil war in these neighbouring countries.

“Solwezi Diocese is still young and has a lot of influences from different sects which came first to North-Western Province to evangelise the people,” says Sister Norma Atilano, Project Secretary. “Many are still inclined to traditions and beliefs that are not helpful to the growth of an individual and our faith as Catholics. Human and spiritual formation of our faithful is very much desired. Pilgrimage, retreats, seminars, conferences and education programmes are being organised to respond to these needs, but for the implementation of programmes we still depend heavily on outside financial assistance due to the high levels of poverty in our congregations. Our priority is to establish a good educational programme to address the many challenges that we are facing in the diocese, and especially to eradicate ignorance and poverty.”


Holistic education


The diocese started a kindergarten some ten years ago through St. Daniel’s Cathedral, and in 2016, with the help of various benefactors, managed to build two classrooms to start a primary school, now known as St. Daniel’s Nursery and Primary School for first and second graders. The Education Department in the district is encouraging the diocese to open new schools that can work with the government to provide children with good education. However, Church congregations do not have enough funds to build them. In this school the salaries of the nine teachers and a cleaner are paid for by the government. The school asks for a minimum contribution per child, but families that cannot contribute carry out some manual work in lieu of payment. Although the ultimate aim is to make the school autonomous through the payment of these minimal fees, the diocese also supports many orphaned and vulnerable children to be in school.

“Many parents prefer their children to be educated in Catholic Schools because they know that Catholic Schools are committed to providing them with holistic education,” says Sister Norma. “This assists them to discover and develop their inner potentials and capabilities through the school’s educational programmes which foster human integration, social responsibility and spiritual formation.”


€20,000 grant


In January 2018, thanks mainly to funds raised in South Korea, the school started construction of two more classrooms to provide education to third and fourth graders. Construction had reached roof level when they approached St Anthony’s Charities for funding to complete the building. The total cost of construction was €55,000, of which €4,500 had been raised locally, and over €20,000 from other donations. €20,000 was granted by St Anthony’s Charities to allow construction to be concluded.

The first instalment was received in early October 2018. These funds allowed for the completion of the roofs, purchase and fitting of plumbing materials, electrical works, and the construction and fitting of door and window frames. It also allowed work to begin on the floors. The second instalment was received in November 2018 and this enabled further construction materials to be purchased and labour fees to be paid. The works included: fitting of ceiling boards, doors and windows, finishing of the floors using good quality materials which will last for years, and painting of the walls and ceilings. As is common in many projects, the cost of materials rose during the life of the project, and further funds needed to be sourced for the work to be completed. The Christmas break caused further delays, however, and everything was finally ready for use on 20th January 2019.

The two new classrooms are being used by first and second graders  – ninety children in total. Now, they have improved facilities and a comfortable environment for a better learning experience. “Parents and school staff are also very happy and feel assured of the children’s safety,” says Sister Norma. “The children can do better in these new classrooms, and more parents have been attracted by them to send their children to this school.”


Hundredfold blessings


“The construction of the block of two classrooms was completed in January 2019 and the children have been using them since then,” says Moses Chabala, Chairperson of The Parish Executive of Saint Daniel’s School. “The Executive, parents, teachers and children are very grateful. The school now provides parents with small kids access to quality education near their homes. The good standard of infrastructure being put up with your help, and the quality of education, together with the best sanitation in town, has led to a rise in the number of children coming to our school. This has allowed some of our youth to be employed as teachers. Everybody is happy with your support! We are grateful for the generous assistance of St Anthony’s Charities and the readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony, and pray for all your endeavours in supporting development in Zambia, and particularly in Solwezi.”

“We are very grateful to God for your generous assistance, which helped us to complete the work on the construction,” concludes Sister Norma. “We are also happy and thankful to our workers who showed their cooperation with the speed of their work. We continue to count on your support for our future plans to build further classrooms. May God bless you a hundredfold for your generosity!”

Updated on October 27 2019