Grand Opening of Twatasha Community School

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•00

cover2000-11I am very honoured to be present here for the opening of the Twatasha Community School. Acting Dutch Ambassador, Mrs. Lidi Remmelzwaal, opened her speech on Friday October 6, just before cutting the ribbon and unveiling the slate with the school’s logo upon it. The logo, designed and painted by students Rachel O’Donnell and Patricia Matzdorf, of the American International School, depicts an apple with the word ‘Twatasha,’ symbolising nourishment from the Tree of Knowledge. The ‘T’ in the word ‘Twatasha’ had been transformed to appear as a human image. The figure was intended to represent the students, the teachers, the parents and the community. The painting’s colours had been confined to those of the Zambian flag, representing the home country. Following the unveiling, Mrs. Remmelzwaal presented the school with a computer as a gift from the Dutch Embassy. The community, which is on the outskirts of Lusaka, was delighted to receive this contribution.

Mr Watze Elsinga, Managing Director of Enviro-Flor, and his wife, Angelique, began the project of building a school to provide the community with a quality and affordable educational facility. With the nearest schools 7 to 12 Kilometres away, only 44% of the community’s children attended school, and those who did had to walk long distances. This was the inspiration for the project. Many parents would not allow their children to walk the long distance to school until they reached a certain age. These children began school very late compared to the majority of the students who attended schools. Enviro-Flor decided to take charge of the situation, and not only to provide a school for the community, but also to make it a requirement that all of the children in the Enviro-Flor community attended school.

Now, under the leadership of Donald Mulubwa, Chairman of the Twatasha Community School project, funding from the Dutch Embassy and Enviro-Flor, and volunteers from within the community, this dream has become a reality. One aspect of the Twatasha Community School that will aid the students’ families is that Stanbic Bank is supplying a portion of the tuition fees. There is also a sister school to Twatasha, in the Netherlands and the American International School here in Lusaka, which will continue to donate supplies to the school.

The Ministry of Education has provided the newly appointed headmistress, Mrs. Mabel Kachidza who, with her 32 years experience in education, is a promising factor for the continued success of the school. The Ministry has also provided a teacher and a promise to supply more. Four hundred and sixty students from 3 to 12 years old are currently attending Twatasha Community School from the community. There will be a class for 3 and 4 year olds, one for 4 and 5 year olds, and then grades 1 and 2. The school curriculum will be in both English and Nyanja. A board will run the Twatasha Community School, and there will be a Parent Teacher Association to help keep the parents involved in their children’s education. Eventually, the goal is to replace the current board with parents and other members of the community.

Before the official opening of the school, Mrs. Remmelzwaal presented three of the community members who had been involved in a health-training programme with their certificates. These persons have been charged with routinely observing the children. Once a month, a private physician will visit the school and examine each child to maintain the health of every student. Bonnita is supplying buttermilk for the children in order to sustain their well being. The health of the students has been a very important issue in the school project. The classrooms are large and spacious, and will house at least forty students in each.

Many of the children who are older than 10 have never attended school. These children will join the First Grade class along with the smaller children who will just be starting school. When asked how this school will affect her in the future, 12 year old Niza answered, “The teachers seem to like teaching. I want to be a teacher.” Niza’s father is a worker at Enviro-Flor rose farm, where the school is located. She has a brother named Edward who will also be attending the school.

Up to this point this school has been a community project and must continue to be this if it is to succeed and progress further. As Mrs. Remmelzwaal stated, “The building is not yet a school, that will take time and energy…. the community at large, too has an important task ahead of them in making this happen.” Twatasha Community School will give the children in this community the opportunity to learn by supplying trained teachers, advanced facilities, and a community-wide learning experience that will prepare them for life.

by Nicole Gerber

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