By Clementine Denga
Chitakatira Primary School is in the Chitakatira community, located in the Mutare South District of Manicaland. According to the 2012 census, the district has 81,928 inhabitants in 19,321 households, hence the high enrolment at Chitakatira primary school with 2048 children, 1012 being boys and 1036 girls. However, the work of Nhaka Foundation focuses on children between 0 and 8 years of age and promotes safe and clean ECCE institutions, child-friendly pedagogical models and teacher training, linking this with nutrition programmes and hygiene education, access to health care and psychosocial support. With this in mind the Chitakatira primary school site consists of one block with 2 classrooms for the ECD. Having a total of 342 learners in the ECD this gives a ratio of 1 classroom:171 students as compared to the standard of 1classroom: 28 students, so children have limited space and resort to learning under the trees. The ECD curriculum in Zimbabwe is very classroom oriented and at the same time aims to promote the physical and cognitive development of the children. The aim is to use child-friendly, playful and creative methods. Nhaka Foundation with the support of BMZ and TDH has implemented a project to quality, holistic and lifelong Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for children between 0 and 8 years of age at Chitakatira. A construction project for Chitakatira for one block that consists of 2 classrooms is 80%complete. This block was built with the intention to reduce the classroom to student ratio.
With regular health checks and screening for children 0-8 years as one of the outcomes, support from the Ministry of Health and Child Care will always be appreciated as they assist with screening the children. This is done to help monitor the children’s developmental status, detect malnutrition, developmental delays, and physical and mental problems at an early stage and, if necessary, take countermeasures to ensure the young children live a life full of possibilities. These health screenings are done every month of each school term. So far, we have done two health assessment activities for 741 children. The health assessments are assisted by the Nhaka Foundation Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant with the help of the Nurses.
In order to improve the children’s nutritional condition and their physical and mental performance, Nhaka Foundation is running a nutrition programme for children between the ages of 4 and 8 at Chitakatira, the success of which is measured by regular health screenings which have been mentioned above. In order to ensure a clean, secure, balanced and regular meal for children a food preparation workshop has been carried out in Chitakatira. The workshop was facilitated by the Ward Nutrition Coordinator, Environment and Health Technician, and the Nurse. Topics discussed included hygiene, food preparation and balanced meals among others. Impact for this workshop can only be measured by the change in the children’s nutritional status which will be measured by the health checks and screenings to be conducted as the project progresses.
Training in conflict prevention and resolution helps parents and caregivers to avoid stress in families and education and to solve intra-family conflicts withoutthe use of physical and psychological violence. A two-day conflict prevention and resolution workshop was conducted in Chitakatira with the presence of the local leaders (village heads), school development committee and community. As a result of the workshop the impact was fast felt as those that were known not to get along are now working together for the progress of the project.
Early childhood is a period of enormous growth and development. Children develop more rapidly during the period from birth to age 8 than at any other time in their lives, shaped in large part by their experiences in the world. These early years of development are critical for providing a firm foundation in cognitive, language, and motor development, as well as social, emotional, regulatory, and moral development. Nhaka Foundation in partnership with TDH and BMZ is putting tremendous effort with the support of the community and local stakeholders to enable children to have a life full of possibilities.
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