Lesedi Primary School provides a unique opportunity for children from the poor, rural communities in this area to receive a quality education. Most would not otherwise complete primary school. Before Lesedi, the only option was a government school many kilometres away. Children frequently didn't attend or were excluded due to non-payment of school fees. The economic crisis in Zimbabwe means that government schools are severely under-resourced, with shortages of teachers, textbooks and equipment. The only option for a quality education is to enrol at a private school but these are out of reach financially for the families in the communities around Lesedi.
From humble beginnings just a few years ago, Lesedi Primary School now teaches two Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes and Grades 1-6 to around 250 pupils. Grade 7 will be added in 2021, after which work will start on constructing a secondary school. As a community school, funded by donations, we strive to become a centre of educational excellence.
Lesedi charges nominal school fees of just US$34 per pupil per term, most of which is used to fund two hot meals a day for our pupils. Even this level of school fees has proved too challenging for many families, most of whom are living a subsistence lifestyle with no regular form of income. In 2018 we introduced a sponsorship program at Lesedi to ensure that no child is excluded from receiving an education. This has been a huge success and a high proportion of our pupils are now sponsored.
We currently employ ten teachers at the school, with all salaries funded by donations through our registered charity, Ngoko Charitable Trust. The school is equipped with laptops, and we have a dedicated ICT teacher, enabling us to introduce our pupils to computers at a young age. Lesedi is connected to mains electricity and more recently the internet, considerable achievements considering the school is 3km off the main road and 14km from town.
Outside of the classrooms we are developing our sports facilities, and the children are now competing in inter-school tournaments. Our Grade 5 teacher also teaches music and has big ambitions for our Lesedi choir. The children are involved in craftwork, making beaded jewellery and sewing, and we plan to introduce more arts and crafts to the school. We are keen to provide a well-rounded education with exposure to a wide range of vocational skills. Longer term we also aim to provide specialist support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
The children at Lesedi are flourishing under the wonderful leadership of our headteacher, Mrs Mutori. The school regularly hosts groups of international tourists, and this exposure has not only increased the confidence of the children but also continues to expand their horizons. They are now daring to dream, with the knowledge that sponsorship will ensure they can remain in school.