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The Only Teacher in the School

It is break time and the children are outside playing and not in the classrooms. There is only one teacher around: the Head Teacher, Mr Chatembwa.

Mr Chatembwa explains to us that the school has capacity for over 800 pupils and a full staff complement of 16 teachers. This term, however, there are only 307 children enrolled and only six teaching staff remaining. Hunger, inflation and poverty have driven teachers to look for work and food elsewhere and many have not returned. At its worst last year, Mr Chatembwa was the only teacher running the school. He is from the area, speaks Tonga and, we find out, he used to work for Save the Children. The sign on the wall behind his desk says ‘work with children at heart’.

Miriam outlines Save the Children’s support for the school for the following term: the school will receive a block grant from us with which it will be able to buy text books, stationery; make essential repairs. None of the classrooms have doors and most have been raided over the past year – even the desk tops have been taken. We have come to hand out t-shirts to children in the school who are orphans and have received psycho-social support from our child protection programme. The t-shirts say ‘Life is full of ups and downs’….

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