Hwange Main Camp Early Childhood Development (ECD) Infrastructure

Construction, refurbishing and fencing of Early Childhood Development classroom facilities at Main Camp Primary School
Zimbabwe - Hwange
Key Points
  • Main Camp Primary School is situated within Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and does not have the appropriate infrastructure for the Early Childhood Development classes that have recently been introduced into the national curriculum

  • Roughly 30 children per year are enrolled into this class and they currently use a storeroom as a classroom

  • The single communal ablution is not age-appropriate and is therefore a health risk for the students

  • There is no barrier between the school and the dangerous wildlife that roams freely in the area

  • Our goal is to help create a safer learning environment through building ablutions with running water as well as fencing around the school grounds

Main Camp Primary School is situated within Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. With Early Childhood Development (ECD) only recently being introduced into the national curriculum, a storeroom outside of school grounds has been functioning as their classroom. They have no appropriate ablutions and the area is unfenced, open to the wildlife that roam freely through the Park.

These unsanitary conditions of crowded learning areas, no running water or proper toilet facilities, pose a serious threat to the young children. They are especially susceptible to illnesses associated with poor hygiene such as typhoid and cholera which are water-borne diseases. These can have detrimental effects on the children’s development, even causing fatalities.

In the face of a global pandemic, COVID-19, projects like this that will have a marked impact on hygiene and sanitation for communities and at-risk groups must be prioritised.

To contribute towards improved health and safety of the children, age appropriate ablutions with running water as well as fencing around the entire site must be constructed.

Currently, an independent operator is also constructing a dedicated classroom on this new site.

Early Childhood Development is linked to improved performance throughout school years and beyond.

Every child deserves the best possible start in life. The early developmental stages of a child’s life are imperative as this is when their brains are most receptive to change and rapid growth. The importance of a safe, clean and engaging learning environment is thus, essential.

Unsanitary conditions pose a serious threat to young children who are especially susceptible to illnesses associated with poor hygiene such as typhoid and cholera which are water-borne. These diseases can have detrimental effects on the children’s development. In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, these circumstances call for immediate action.

Through contributing to the infrastructure of new age-appropriate ablutions with running water and fencing around the school grounds, the Foundation will be able to give the children the opportunity to play and learn within a clean, safe environment.

This will help enhance the students’ performance through a cleaner, safer, conducive learning environment and is thus the first step to improving long term economic development and breaking the cycle of poverty.

A total amount of $27 000 is needed to complete this project.

$20 will build one meter of fence to keep children safe from wild animals

$30 will buy 10 meters of piping to bring the children fresh, safe water

$55 will buy a tin of paint to transform the classroom

$80 will buy one hand-washing basin

$150 will buy 50 meters of piping to bring the children fresh, safe water

$300 will buy one age-appropriate toilet

Hwange Main Camp is situated at the main entrance in the southern part of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. The community here consists mainly of National Parks employees and their families in a predominantly communal setting. Hwange Main Camp Primary School serves this community of roughly 170 households.

Investments in Early Childhood Development (ECD) interventions have high returns, but this is not always immediately visible or obvious. Some of the benefits of ECD interventions occur only later in life once children receive subsequent investments such as quality primary and secondary education. A young child’s brain can form up to 1000 neural connections every second. This brain-building process is shaped by a combination of nature and nurture and lays the foundation for cognitive and social development.

Living in poverty, which is the case for an estimated two out of three young children in Zimbabwe, influences their survival, growth, and opportunities for Education. This has far-reaching implications and can perpetuate a cycle of disadvantage and inequity that can continue for generations. Poor Early Childhood Development thus contributes to cycles of poverty and hinders efforts to overcome key development challenges such as economic inequality and unemployment.

When school infrastructure in Hwange Main Camp was developed, Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes were not yet adopted within the national curriculum, resulting in a gap in age-appropriate infrastructure. One of the areas where this gap is most severe is the absence of appropriate ablution facilities for the classes of roughly 30 ECD children. A further area of concern is the absence of safety features. A former storeroom has been allocated as a classroom to the ECD classes, but the surrounding area remains open to the National Park. This results in a dangerous situation whereby wild animals freely roam into the ECD play area and surrounds.

The ECD classes currently share a single communally used adult squat toilet located nearby. The primary concern is for the health of young children. Zimbabwe has been affected by typhoid and cholera in recent years, both of which can be contracted through exposure to unsanitary conditions, such as crowded communal ablutions and the absence of appropriate sanitary facilities such as hand washing basins with clean running water. Young children are especially at risk and stand a higher chance of becoming critically ill or experiencing delayed recoveries, which can have long-term negative effects on their development. For children ages three to six, a minimum of one toilet and one hand-washing facility should be provided for every 10 children.

The African Bush Camps Foundation and Hwange Main Camp Primary School have a long-standing relationship. The Foundation has been working with the school to improve equitable access to education, mobilise resources, build capacity and improve school infrastructure. These efforts have been fruitful as shown by the increase in the school’s pass rate in its Gr 7 National Exams as well as an increase in enrolment, improved retention of teachers and a reduction in absenteeism.
As identified by the School and community, the next priority area to be addressed is the lack of appropriate facilities and safety precautions for Early Childhood Development classes.


Zimbabwe - Hwange
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