GPE funding transforms a Zimbabwean school, reviving children's dreams
January 15, 2024 by UNICEF Zimbabwe |
3 minutes read

A school in rural Zimbabwe is experiencing changing fortunes as GPE funds improve the learning environment.

Lunch hour at Gandangula Primary School in Lupane is a good time for children to share fruit and play games in the shady courtyard while cooling themselves from the sweltering heat. The smiles on their faces tell a story of their school’s transformation.

Gandangula Primary School has gone from having only two classroom blocks in the 1990s, with most children attending class under trees, to boasting fully furnished classrooms, including an early childhood development center and a computer laboratory. Today, the school welcomes of 375 students in 9 classrooms.

The government of Zimbabwe and UNICEF, with financial support from development partners including GPE and the Education Development Fund, have changed the learning environment.

The GPE support to Gandangula Primary School since 2019 is through a school improvement grant. The grant focuses on infrastructure improvement, prioritizing building new classrooms and a science and computer lab.

The funding helps communities complete structures where construction and rehabilitation have been at a standstill for more than two years.

Gandangula Primary School Headmaster inside an early childhood development center funded by GPE. Credit: UNICEF Zimbabwe
Gandangula Primary School Headmaster inside an early childhood development center funded by GPE.
UNICEF Zimbabwe

With the GPE support, Gandangula Primary School has managed to rehabilitate classroom blocks; complete the computer laboratory including the plastering, ceiling and floor of the strong room used to secure digital equipment; and fit doors for all nine classrooms.

“The funds have made my job easy. I now concentrate on supervision because we have created a friendly environment for learners.”
Nkosinathi Moyo
School Head, Gandangula Primary School

The power of partnership

The completion of the computer laboratory – in line with the school’s goal to improve information technology literacy – is a powerful demonstration of complementarity among partners.

The laboratory was renovated with GPE funds; furniture was purchased using the Education for Development Fund school improvement grant mechanism, supported by the United Kingdom; Ubuntu Schales Trust supported the solarization of the laboratory; World Vision provided tablets; and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe provided computers.

Gandangula’s school development committee also contributed, playing a pivotal role in the solarization and procurement of fans and a television set in the laboratory.

And, thanks to GPE funding, the school’s challenges related to water, sanitation and hygiene are a thing of the past. A solar-powered borehole and giant water tank ensure piped tap water at the school and teachers’ residences, where several toilets have also been constructed.

GPE’s support of Gandangula Primary School and other schools like it builds on the work done by several development partners.

In 2010, the Education for Development Fund’s school improvement grant as well as funding from the United Kingdom distributed textbooks to select schools, including Gandangula Primary School.

Since 2014, the school has also benefited from teaching and learning materials, furniture, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and special needs equipment thanks to the combined effort of partners.

In 2019, the school completed a fully furnished early childhood development center, and GPE complementary funding contributed to completion of the classrooms. The colorful center has attracted learners, with teachers saying enrollment has increased.

Early childhood development teachers have also benefited from paraprofessional courses.

“The courses have helped. At first, I did not know how to teach small children. … More parents trust us with their children. Children now have toys and other things to play with, which makes them look forward to school.”
Patience Sibanda
Early childhood development teacher, Gandangula Primary School
Girls play games during the lunch hour at Gandangula Primary School in Lupane. Credit: UNICEF Zimbabwe
Girls play games during the lunch hour at Gandangula Primary School in Lupane.
UNICEF Zimbabwe

In addition, UNICEF’s Safe Schools Program, supported by the Education Development Fund under UNICEF’s Child Protection Program, has provided girls at Gandangula Primary School with counselling services and menstrual kits.

A room for psychosocial support for students, parents and teachers was also provided.

“We are saying each learner should feel free to air their views. There is less discrimination and bullying among the learners.”
Valentine Sibanda
Safe Schools Coordinator, Gandangula Primary School

Giving hope to the community

The transformation of Gandangula Primary School – which is situated in an area where most families rely on subsistence farming – has given hope to the community. Here, education is seen as a way out of poverty.

“We now have classrooms; no pupil learns outside.”
Providence Sibanda
Grade 4 pupil with an ambition of becoming a pilot, Gandangula Primary School
“The school was not like this during our days; it is now in a better state. We have classrooms and a computer lab. The school has drastically changed for the better.”
Lovemore Ncube
Lupane District Schools Inspector and former teacher at Gandangula Primary School in the 1990s

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