At its core, SEPO understands education to be one of the best pathways to community-defined progress and improved futures for all. In Zambia, a focus on education is a critical component of SEPO’s work as nearly 50% of the population is under the age of 15 (as compared to 19% in the U.S.). The average number of years of schooling for a Zambian youth is 7 years, meaning that most kids (especially those in rural areas like Mabumbu) do not make it to Grade 8 or beyond. These realities make the work of widening and deepening educational experiences particularly important.
With that in mind, SEPO’s educational outreach is focused in three key areas.
- SEPO directly partners with Kalangu Basic School in Mabumbu area in numerous efforts to improve the infrastructure, resources, and opportunities for Mabumbu children. Kalangu serves approximately 500 students – ranging from Grade 1 through Grade 9 – in four classrooms with only 12 teachers. We are currently looking for funding to complete classroom renovations in two classrooms, repair significant roof damage, and dig two new pit latrines (toilets). We would also like to secure funding to purchase as many school desks for the students as possible.
- SEPO works with SEPO Women’s Group to identify the most vulnerable children (orphans, kids with sick/elderly/extremely poor parents) in Mabumbu area and to secure educational sponsorship for those children through Grade 9 (and possibly beyond). It costs approximately $300/year to provide tuition, supplies, uniforms, shoes, and exam fees for a student at Kalangu (or other government schools). For children who are orphaned, boarding school is often the most viable option as it provides stability, food, and a place to sleep. Boarding school fees can run around $1,200/year. SEPO is always looking for school sponsors.
- SEPO has recently begun to explore the possibilities of investing in early childhood education, as early, foundational educational experiences can shape and mold future outcomes in significantly critical ways. SEPO is also interested in targeting our early education programs to young mothers in the region in order to allow them to continue their own educations (they typically quit school in order to provide care for their small children and rarely return). We anticipate working with SEPO Zambia’s Mongu branch to explore potential programs and support (perhaps a tiny version of Head Start for the kids of Mabumbu).