In 2020 Children’s Town clocks 30 years from the time it was established. Since then, numerous untold stories of innocent street children with potential to thrive have long not been told, until some of them came to Children’s Town. These children languished in the streets that exposed them to numerous life challenges, as they strived for survival.
Children’s Town embraced them because it believes that the street children and vulnerable children’s problem can slowly be tackled if these children are mobilised and equipped with skills that make them in charge of improving their own lives.
What happens at the school
The school offers education from Preschool to Grade 9. The preschool stage uses a child friendly teaching method called ‘Preschool of the Future’ that develops children’s learning ability using their hands, minds, imagination and body.
Using a government approved curriculum, the primary education section pays special attention to Grade 1 pupils whose class is managed by two teachers for easy teaching of subjects.
The school provides a two-tier education system from Grade 7 to 9 called Practical and Theoretical Basic Education (PTE) which gives them choices of seeking, either employment, transitioning into higher education or starting an enterprise when they graduate Grade 9. The pupils also take education tours in relevant industries to learn more about their career pathways.
In 2019 the school had 478 children of which 82 were borders because are they are former street children accommodated at the institution during the school terms, and the rest were day scholars from surrounding communities. In the same year, the school scored a 100% pass rate for pupils who wrote the TEVETA level 3 examinations in Grade 9 and those who sat for Grade 7 examinations respectively. Those who wrote Grade 9 ECZ examinations scored 56% pass rate.
The Practical Theoretical Education (PTE) Programme
The Practical Theoretical Education (PTE) Programme is organised as if it were a 3 year long expedition to conquer the highest mountain in the world. The programme is made for learners to become somebody in their own right, by using their full potential to become human beings who are not defined by their job and salary, but their humanity and personal values and skills; and their ability to live and work with others to bring better conditions, in creating individuals who are masters of their own time and life. The programme gives them quality academic education and life skills training, which is a huge kick into their future.
This programme is a virtual mountain-climb that has many challenges to conquer using skills, knowledge and actions that are learnt and done on the way. There are Matters of Mind where learners study subjects that make them excel in their special trade and Matters of Hand and Mind where they learn skills and actions in Food Production and Modern Chef which they practice in their communities and at school.
The programme is organised in a way that learners see themselves working their way up to the next level, becoming more and more skilled and experienced. It is designed in a form of hikes and plateaus. The hikes give them new challenges that train them more skills to understand and do new things on a higher level. Each plateau gives them a rest to measure and take stock of what they have learned and done, to really understand what they will get out of the hikes: maybe they pass a test or exam, or make a grand exhibition of their products or collect all their reports and print them as a book.
How DAPP Responds to Street Children Challenges
Since inception the school has supported more than 2,500 former street children, orphans from major towns in Zambia and surrounding communities, and has transformed many into agriculturists, entrepreneurs, managers and academicians.
The children are recruited by DAPP staff with support from the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, from towns and cities in Zambia. When they are brought to Children’s Town, they undergo psychosocial counselling which is a continuous activity during their stay at the “Town” in order for them to reclaim their life-values and self-esteem. As they undergo counselling they are organized in ‘Family Groups’ in which they are treated as siblings. With this setup, they also take part in running the school.
When they complete Grade 9 the school assists them to be with their families. At this point the child has become a young adult ready to either pursue further education into Grade 10 or become an entrepreneur or get employment depending on the skill that she or he acquired. Many of these have come back to tell inspiring tales of how their lives have been transformed.
“DAPP continued helping me with all school requirements I needed, until I finished Grade 12 in 2004. In 2006, I was accepted to study a teacher training course at Kitwe Teachers College and completed in 2008 with a distinction. In 2010, Government deployed me to Northrise Primary School in Ndola Urban, but I requested to be sent to Children’s Town, and was transferred in 2012. DAPP Children’s Town gave me an opportunity to better my life and now I am a model to the children so as to give them hope for the future and make this world a better place for all”.
Stanley Mpubula, Teacher, Children’s Town School