Zambia: On Location with Teacher Charles Zulu
Charles Zulu (CZ): I am the head teacher of Chiwawatala Basic School, My deputy is Misozi Mwanza, and there are 12 other teachers. I was born in 1957 and reside at the school. I am married and have 6 children.
Jan Aaron (JA): What is your educational background, schools, degrees, prior jobs? How long have been working at your present job? Challenges? What accomplishments are you most proud of in your current job? What does the future hold for your school?
CZ: I was educated in Chipata and have a Diploma in Primary Education. I have been a teacher since 1981 and have never worked anywhere else. As head teacher, my main duties are to administer the day-to-day running of the school, to relate to and interpret government policy on education with the local community, other stakeholders and donors. My main challenge is infrastructure. We do not have enough classrooms and teacher houses. The other challenge is the growing number of orphans. When we received assistance from ADB (African Development Board), we constructed 2 classroom blocks and 4 teacher houses. When other aid came from the Lu of Sausage Foundation in the UK, we brought power to the school. I look at and cherish these developments as my greatest accomplishments. The school is continuing to grow from the initial population of 223 pupils in 1997 when I arrived to almost 880.
JA: Is education for all children compulsory in Zambia? If so, ages and grades? Are schools free? Cost of uniforms, books and supplies? If a family can't pay, is school provided on a scholarship basis?
CZ: Education is free and compulsory for Grades 1-7 in Zambia. Pupils start school at 7 years of age. From grades 8-12, students are required to pay. At our school, pupils pay 80,000 Kwacha (US$16) per term for three terms. All children are required to pay for school uniforms, buy books and other school supplies. These cost about US$60 for the full year. It is not easy to afford the costs, but a few pupils have scholarships. Pupils have 8 hours at school of which 6 hours are spent in class and 2 are spent on extracurricular activities. We have 3 terms of 3 months each with a month break between terms. We provide lunch at school, which has been sponsored by the World Food Programme and we grow vegetables to supplement this.
JA: What nonacademic courses does your school offer for those who don't excel academically, such as basket weaving, animal husbandry? Guide instruction for employment at Bushcamp? Are there courses in deportment? I heard the boy’s choir. Is there a girl’s choir? Have any of your graduates gone on to become famous in business, the arts, or other fields? If so, give names and brief descriptions.
CZ: In community studies we offer non-academic courses like fishing, weaving, agriculture, animal husbandry, carving, and conservation. These assist our learners who cannot continue with formal education to earn a living in their societies. A good market is there for these products and learners benefit a lot from the courses. The choir is made up of both boys and girls, some of which have excelled. Some are teachers, safari guides, businessmen/women. For example, Kevin is now a guide at Mfuwe Lodge, Mike owns a big shop in Mfuwe area and many others are prospering in both government and private institutions.#