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Veronica Nyirongo working towards her dream of being a teacher

Females and males in rural areas are less educated than their urban counterparts. The median years
of schooling are 3.0 and 3.7 years for females and males, respectively, in rural areas compared with 6.4
and 7.2 years, respectively, in urban areas. This is according to the 2013-2014 Zambia Health Demographic Health Survey Report.

This situation is sad considering that education is key to one realizing their full potential and attaining a level playing field where one can compete on equal basis with others for better jobs or indeed producing better ideas that are well paying.

However, reports indicated in the Zambia Demographic Health Survey that wealth exerts a positive influence on educational attainment and that females from the highest wealth quintile are more likely to be educated than those from other quintiles indeed show that education is not easy to access for those with less resources or in poverty.

Considering that poverty levels in Zambia are standing at 60 percent according to the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey of 2010, this means that the number of Zambians who drop out of school or fail to access education is also high. Access to education especially secondary and tertiary is even more challenging.

This situation is worse in rural areas where poverty levels according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO) stand at 78 percent in rural areas and 28 percent in the urban areas.  In Zambia, poverty is defined as lack of access to income, employment opportunities, and entitlements, including freely determined consumption of goods and services, shelter, and other basic needs.
Women for Change (WfC) and VIDEA its partner also view education as a key factor to poverty reduction and attainment of development for families, communities and a nation. WfC believes that an educated mind produces better ideas, an educated person makes better contribution to society and also is far much better able to provide for themselves than one who is not.

To this end, WfC has been providing direct education support to 14 orphans and vulnerable children coming from rural areas with support from VIDEA.  Some of these children are either at secondary schools, colleges or universities.

WfC caught up with two of the children it is providing support to. These include Veronica Nyirongo and Komani Phiri.

Veronica Nyirongo is 18 years old and is from Chidumbu Village in Ludanzi district. She went to school in Lundazi. Her journey to attain secondary school education was not easy as her parents are peasant famers. As she spoke to WfC she recounts that five teachers at her former secondary school called Emusa Secondary school used to contribute personal money to pay for her school fees from grades 10 to 12.

“ After writing the exam, I got my results that indicated that I had obtained 18 points but my  parents were unable to send me to college even if I had been accepted because they did not have money.” She said,

Veronica was assisted to apply for college by her cousin and she was accepted to study at Evelyn Hone College. However, her future dreams of becoming a teacher hand in the balance because of lack of funds.

“I feel so lucky and happy that after approaching Women for Change with my results and acceptance letter, they agreed to fund me. I am happy that the Chairperson of Chinkamu Area Association was able top recommend me to WfC for support and now am working towards becoming a teacher in order for me to impart knowledge and help others like I was helped.” Veronica smiled.

And WfC Executive Director, Lumba Siyanga expressed happiness at the development and said her organization is proud to associate itself with the changed life of Veronica and other young persons the organisation was supporting with the assistance of VIDEA.

She added that looking at one of the young persons WfC has sponsored to school and is now an accountant is a major milestone.

WfC has been sponsoring Komani Phiri also from Lundazi to study accounts and he now has a licentiate and technician certificates. Komani’s dream has become true of becoming an accountant.

However, his beginning was not so different from that of Veronica in that his parents were able to support him until grade 12 but were unable to raise college fees for him to carry on with his education of obtaining a professional qualification.

Komani is currently undertaking internship at Women for Change in order to gain work experience and also delighted to practice his profession.

The internship is also meant to build his confidence levels and improve his knowledge on workplace cultures.

Raeley King