Zambezi Crescent Preschool
The sounds of children counting out loud, singing nursery rhymes and bouts of excited laughter can be heard for miles in the lush African bush surrounding the newly established Zambezi Crescent Preschool in the Zambezi National Park.
In January 2018 an ambitious plan to build a preschool for children in the Early Childhood Development phase, aged 3 to 5 years old, came into fruition when the school officially opened its doors to the excited, somewhat nervous, children who all live in Zambezi National Park.
For most of the school’s new learners it was the first time that they attended a formal, structured preschool in their lives, since going to school was a luxury not afforded to them due to the high cost of school fees and long travelling distances to the nearest schools in town.
The need for a preschool was recognised by the management and owners of Zambezi Crescent Collection, who value a reciprocal relationship with their friendly and highly competent staff, as well as the surrounding community.
“Quality education at an early age is crucial for early childhood development, and we know that education has the power to change the world. By giving the children this foundation, we prepare them for the rest of their educational journey in life,” said Zambezi Crescent Collection Owner Mark Bosch.
Before the school opened it was very difficult for us parents, especially those who have to work during the day. The children were just running around at home. – Parent
Providing free education
Given their active involvement in the National Park, the Zambezi Crescent Collection now prides itself on providing free schooling to all pre-schoolers living in the National Park’s Staff Village.
In keeping with the true African spirit of vast and extended family structures, this offer is inclusive of not only children of Parks’ employees; relatives of those employed by the National Park and even the children of friends of Park’s employees who live in the Zambezi National Park Staff Village.
Zambezi Crescent Preschool, consisting of a student body of more than 15 children of a mixed balance of boys and girls, is located just a few metres from the children’s homes in the Staff Village. This allows the children the freedom to walk to school and back, while being supervised by an adult, on a daily basis. School starts at 8am and finishes at 12pm in the Summer, and in Winter it opens at 9am and closes at 1pm.
One of the teachers at the school, Sibonokuhle (Sibo) Kapesa, describes the Zimbabwean Early Childhood Development curriculum as “rigorous” with a total of six subjects being taught every day by Kapesa, and Tsitsi Muchemwa, another qualified teacher at the school.
“The school has made a real impact on the children’s development. Now that the school is so much closer to them, they can have access to the same opportunities as other children who do not live on the outskirts of town,” said Kapesa.
The big build – a labour of love
After the necessary approval was received from the authorities, Zambezi Crescent Collection set out to build the preschool building, which includes a sunny classroom as well as bathroom facilities for the children.
As with any build in Zimbabwe, materials were extremely costly or simply not available, with the result that many materials used for the school, along with all plumbing and electrical fittings, had to be sourced and brought in from South Africa.
There were also no electrical lines or water lines supplying the site, so these had to be brought in from the nearest point in the National Park’s Staff Village.
The team from Zambezi Crescent Collection, consisting of passionate staff members and contractors, had to lay electrical lines and plumbing over the entire distance by hand – manually digging the trenches.
On 9 January 2018 the school was officially opened. It was a joyous occasion, with a bit of first-day jitters for some. With the pencils sharpened, the classroom floor swept and the teachers ready to teach – the moment got too big for little Agonigzashe Sangarwe (3).
Little Agonigzashe has come a long way since his initial first-day jitters of running away from his teacher, to seeing his very first airplane on a school outing to Victoria Falls Airport. Like his classmates, he now loves coming to school every day – ready for a new learning adventure.
How you can get involved
Guests and interested parties can peruse the Wish-list of Zambezi Crescent Preschool and contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com should you want to donate any of these items to the school.
Zambezi Crescent Preschool Wish-list
- Age-appropriate books: Story books and Colouring books
- Age-appropriate stationary: thick colouring pencils and crayons, paint, photocopying paper
- Age-appropriate sports equipment (football, cricket, table tennis, etc.)
- Electronic equipment for ICT as a subject: tablets and/or a laptop, a DVD player, a television and/or a radio
- Sun hats & a Sports uniforms
- Hiring the services of a qualified sports trainer/ coach
- Developing the play-area with a jungle gym, swings and slides
- Another classroom and/or a Wendy-house
- Plastic/ portable pool for cooling off on hot Summer days
- Dress-up clothes
- Outdoor kitchen items
- Big Lego (Duplo)
- Building blocks
- Buckets and spades
- Watering cans
- Sandpit toys
- Plastic animals (insect, farm and wild animals)