Lumwana West Pre-School Project

Pre-school education is rare in rural Africa, and students without access to it are at a disadvantage throughout their education. Before 2010, the Lumwana West Basic School first grade teacher had 130 students in her class, and no access to early reading programs. EBZEF, looking for a way to address this issue as well as provide to temporary employment for Beth’s Girl Dianah Masumbah as she awaited results of her college exams, created an Early Childhood Literacy Program through the Memorial Library in 2010.

EBZEF Pre-School Children 

Dianah’s work was funded through a grant from the Columbia River Peace Corps Association, enabling her to work with the librarian, LWBS teachers, and Beth’s Girls volunteers to create a storytelling/reading/writing program for the younger students. This was the beginning of the Lumwana West Pre-School.

Dianah Masumbah

As of May of 2011, 35 students were enrolled in the pre-school, which enjoyed strong parent support. They were learning in both Lunda and English and had a corner in the Memorial Library with books at their level and videos to help with learning such things as colors, the alphabet, health, and more.

Interior of Memorial Library

Students at Schirle Elementary School in Salem participated in a penny drive to help pay for school books and supplies for the preschool, raising more than $640, enough for chairs, sleeping mats, books, art supplies, and the like.

Schirle Elementary School Children Helping

By the end of 2011, the pre-school had outgrown the space in the Library, and was meeting in a nearby church with Beth’s Girl Kutemba Njolomba as teacher. The old wooden pews became desks, while the Schirle Elementary School children furnished little green plastic chairs, paper, pencils, and crayons. This was the first time to sit in a chair, hold a pencil, and see a book for many of the children.

Child Learning to Write

Writing a “Thank-you” to the Schirle students!

Learning to work at “desks”

Learning to work at “desks”

Children at doorway to church

Children at doorway to church

In 2012, Tamara Weiss, a doctoral student in comparative international education at the University of Minnesota, visited Lumwana West to work with the pre-school curriculum and the Memorial Library, helping the LWBS teachers incorporate library work into their classrooms and working on curriculum development for the pre-school. She presented her findings at an international meeting in 2013, citing Lumwana West as a model for Early Childhood Education in Zambia.

Tamara Weiss Teaching Children Pre-School Cirriculum

EBZEF’s Library Committee raised enough money to pay the pre-school teacher’s salary for 4 terms, as the Zambia Ministry of Education did not fund pre-school education. Teachers had not been trained in early childhood development, but Tamara Weiss and Robin Wright Fromherz from Willamette University provided much valuable experience, advice, and materials to the pre-school and teacher. Schirle Elementary School students again raised funds (almost $1100) to help purchase more books and supplies for the preschool.

Schirle School Penny Drive

Finally, in late 2013, the MOE became interested in the pre-school program, and sent Beatrice Kabandi, an early childhood specialist, to the village to teach the pre-school classes, with Beth’s Girls Jean Mutepuka and Belinda Kalumba as teacher’s aides. When the church reclaimed its space, the class met on the grass for a spell.

Pre-School Held Outdoors Before Classroom is Built

By December 2014, the Ministry of Education (MOE) declared the pre-school to be an official part of the Primary School. The curriculum created by Tamara Weiss is being used by the MOE as a model for a national plan for pre-school education in Zambia.

Grants from Baal Dan Charities enabled construction of 3 pre-school classrooms next to the Library during 2015-2017. The children were ready to help build their own classroom!

In the meantime, the pre-school met in a classroom borrowed from the Basic School, causing even more over-crowding for all, but providing shelter for the now established pre-school classes.

Children Getting Ready to Help "Build" School

The first pre-school classroom and the latrine were built by the Lumwana West community and completed in 2017.

Pre-School Classroom and Latrine 

New Pre-School Classroom Being Used

Two new pre-school classrooms were built in partnership with Baal Dan Charities and World Vision in 2017.

New Pre-School Classroom with Disability Ramp

The classrooms are furnished with locally crafted sacred mukwa wood furniture (termite proof), funded by Schirle School’s penny drives.

The curriculum created by Tamara Weiss is being used by the Ministry of Education as a model for a national plan for pre-school education in Zambia.

With the partnership of World Vision USA and the construction oversight of World Vision Zambia, two new pre-school classrooms opened in January 2018.

Special Mukwa Tables and Chairs and Pre-School Opening

Maintaining Pre-School Grounds

Children tending to their new pre-school grounds

Sweeping Classroom Floor

Children eagerly maintaining their new classrooms

Pre-school children maintain the grounds and sweep their classrooms daily.

As of 2018, 80 children are enrolled in 3 classes in pre-school, including the Baby Class (ages 3-4), the Middle Class (ages 4-5), and the Reception Class (ages 5-6). The first children who had access to this early education have had great success in upper grades. Primary Headmistress Irene Sandu reports, “Pupils who pass through the pre-school have a strong foundation so they can compete with those in urban areas.”

The new classrooms will allow the program to expand even more. Teacher’s aides Jean Mutepeka and Belinda Kalumba are now pursuing certificates in Early Childhood Education, with the help of EBZEF scholarships.

Pre-School Class in Session

Pre-School Class in Session

In another partnership gesture, World Vision Zambia donated left over floor tiles from a previous project. EBZEF paid for the tile fix material. Lumwana West supplied the labor.

Irene Sandu, Headmistress of Lumwana West Basic school, says, “Upon seeing the new pre-school, every parent in Lumwana West is excited to bring their children in pre-school. We have experienced high turnout enrollment. We really thank you friends on that other side of the world. We are humbled for such a wonderful gesture.”

Pre-School Completion and Headmistress

Thank you for helping us continue the dream of sustainable education.