Monday, January 02, 2012

The latest news from ZIGS

2011 has been an exciting and eventful year for all of us connected with the Zambezi International Green School especially as we are now a tangible reality having opened our doors to our first pupils in September. We now look forward to the New Year and hope and pray that we grow from strength to strength.

It was in July that we found the perfect building for the first stage of our project. Within six weeks we transformed the building from an empty shell to a vibrant centre of learning. This was largely due to the hard work and dedication of our amazing staff.

We opened at a difficult time given that September sees the start of the third term in Zambian schools and many parents are reluctant to move their children to a new school at such a time in the academic year. However, despite this we managed to recruit sixteen pupils into our Early Childhood Learning Centre. From small acorns grow great oak trees and even in its one term of operation Zambezi International Green School has established itself as the beacon school across the City of Livingstone.

Despite the tremendous success of our Early Years Learning Centre 2011 ended on a sad note with the untimely passing of Mr David Khomonyane - the Headman we have worked so closely with over the past few years. Mr Khomonyane left behind a widow and six children. We hope that the success of our school and especially the Kazungula campus will be a fitting memorial to our friend and colleague.

As 2012 begins our focus is very much on growth and development. We are currently recruiting pupils for our Early Learning Centre and Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 at our Flamboyant Lane campus whilst actively seeking an additional building in order to provide for students in Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 from this time next year. This strategy enables us to continue to grow as a centre of educational excellence and to generate income to invest in the future vision for ZIGS which as our purpose built green school on the banks of the Zambezi.

With our student numbers growing we are in a position to bring on board new members of our team. Depending upon the exact number of pupils enrolling for the new academic year we hope to employ four or five new members of the teaching staff. This will ensure that we meet our promise to parents that all classes will be small with an excellent teacher : pupil ratio. Furthermore, everyone working as a teacher at ZIGS will be qualified as a teacher. Unlike many other private schools in Zambia we will not employ non qualified staff to work in classrooms alongside teachers. We are committed to exemplary standards. One our new teachers’ joining us in January is Mr Aqeel Ahmad – a Mathematics specialist from Pakistan. Aqeel has won prizes for the teaching of Maths in his own country and will be a wonderful addition to the ZIGS increasingly international team of staff and students!

Happy New Year from all at ZIGS!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zambezi International Green School - Opening Soon!!!

Great news from Zambia! We are close to opening the first phase of our green school here in Zambia. In order to kick start the project we have agreed to rent a building in Livingstone where we are going to open a per-school and nursery section. We have been working with various partners over the past few weeks and things are looking good right now!

Of course our aim is to build our own school on the banks of the Zambezi and we also have good news on that front. After much delay we are now (hopefully) near to securing the title deeds for the land. This is a vital aspect of our project - Madonna's schools project in Malawi collapsed as she failed to gain land rights! All being well we will be opening our secondary section in Sept 2012/Jan 2013 on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River!

Right now we are looking for volunteers to work with us on various aspects of the project. Firstly we are looking for Early Years Learning/ Pre School teachers to work with us at our ZIGS, Livingstone. Qualified teachers looking for a fresh challenge or anyone who fancies a gap year or internship should get in touch. We are not in a postion to pay more than an allowance but can offer the chance to work for a project that will really make a difference in children's lives!

For our purpose built secondary school we seek an archetect with genuine green credentials to work with us in designing the school. It is an exciting opportunity as we can offer the right person a carte blanche in the resepct of design in a genuine wilderness setting. If you know such a person ask them to contact us!!!

Soon we will be recruiting teachers and an array of support staff for ZIGS. Please consider what you might be able to do to help us with this amazing project or pass on this e mail to friends!!!

Thanks for all your support!!!

Contact us through Facebook or

Phone: 00260 973312390 (Adrian) 00260 978626719 (Betty)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The quality of education in Zambia

The Post, Zambia's biggest selling daily newspaper, carries a story today reporting that the Catholic Church has expressed concern on the quality of education provided in schools. This comes to know surprise to those of us associated with the Thembinkosi Foundation and the Zambezi International Green School.

The newspaper reports that the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) spokesperson Father Paul Samasumo has said that many basic and community schools had been established to enhance universal access to basic education. However, he said this had not matched the required investment in human resource (teachers) and infrastructure thus putting a serious strain on the products of these schools. Fr Samasumo also said most basic and community schools did not have the necessary infrastructure such as science laboratories and pupils in these schools leave school without seeing the inside of one. He said even though there were efforts to improve the quality of education, a lot more needed to be done. Fr Samasumo said there was need to motivate teachers and reduce the teacher pupil ratio which sometimes reached 60 pupils against one teacher.
“Most of us, even politicians they were inspired to be what they are today because of a teacher, but what happens if a class has 60 pupils and the teacher does not even know all of them. There is need to employ more teachers and provide incentives to retain the ones already working. There are many teachers who are walking the streets because they are unemployed,” he said.

This story clearly indicates an underlining problem with well meaning but hugely misguided Millennium Development Goal to establish Universal Primary Education by 2015. Unfortunately this has led to a focus on getting 'bums on seats' rather than a drive to improve the quality of education in Zambia and across the developing world.

He said another area that needed to be looked into was the curriculum in Zambia.
Fr Samasumo said pupils should be able to have skills to survive on when they complete school.
He said pupils should be prepared for the future while in secondary school because not every pupil had the capacity to go to university. Fr Samasumo said pupils should be prepared to work in factories and industries upon completion of school.

Monday, August 30, 2010

In order to bring our Green School in Zambia closer to reality we have relocated our family to Blantyre, Malawi. Although we are still 100's km from the site of our development we are now based in the region and can make regular trips to the site. I, Adrian, have taken a job as a teacher in an international school in order to ensure that we still have an income whilst Betty will make frequent trips to Zambia to advance matters in relation to the project. This will enable us to establish greater continuity in our dealings with the community in Kazungula, Chief Sekute, the district council and other stakeholders.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Five years of Blogging (on and off!)

I first started writing this Blog back in 2005. It began as a reflection on the time I worked in Botswana back in the early part of this Millennium. Since then ‘Thembinkosi Foundation’ has evolved considerably until we became a UK registered charity 18 months ago. I recently read back through my posts in the Blog and noticed how it has evolved since its inception.

It began as a retrospective diary account of the years I spent living and working in Botswana. The focus was very much on the impact of HIV and Aids. All in all the blog entries were based upon stories and encounters that had affected me. As time went on the Blog drifted to some extent. I have always wanted to keep writing but at times I have found myself writing for the sake of writing. I guess it is for the reader to decide to what extent this was the case.
In recent times the Blog has become refocused. The focus is now very much on our vision to build and sustain a green school in Zambia. The Blog charts the progression of our charity ‘The Thembinkosi Foundation’ and our work in Zambia. The Blog has a new lease of life. It now has more energy. It is more than just a reflection on the past but it’s a vision for the future. This makes it far more exciting to write!

In August we are relocating to Malawi and running our project from there and a base in Livingstone. These are exciting times for us and for the Blog!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Rotary Club of Liverpool Garston

I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Liverpool Garston for the past 18 months. During this time the Club has taken a great deal of interest in our Green School project and has been a great supporter of the Thembinkosi Foundation. Club members were very generous in sponsoring my ‘Tour de Zambezi’ last summer and have continued to support us through a weekly raffle. Furthermore, the Club is committed to helping us still further in the future and we hope to secure funding for various aspects of the school project through Rotary International and its various funding streams.

The support From Rotary has been much more than the financial aspect though. Through my membership of the Club I have made many new friends. Many of these are at least 30 years my senior and as you can imagine I have learnt so much from them. The Club meets every Monday evening and I have always made a point of sitting with different Rotarians each week. The amount that I can learn from those in the older generation is not lost on me. Many Club members have advised me on differing aspects of our project. This advice and support has been invaluable. It has been incredibly reassuring and inspiring for us involved with the ZIGS project to know that people of great wisdom believe in us and our vision for green education in Zambia.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Societal attitudes towards the Elderly

This got me thinking about the way we treat the elderly in the UK compared to the way the elders are treated in Sub Saharan Africa. UK society is quick to condemn the old to nursing homes and certainly does not value the wisdom of those with age and experience. This is such a contrast to the attitude of families and communities in Africa where the elders are respected and revered for their wisdom. Which society should be described as ‘developed?’

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thembinkosi Band Night

On Friday 16th April we are hosting another of our famous Band Nights at the Woolton Village Club in Liverpool. It promises to be a night of live music, games and great banter! All funds will go directly to our charity. The Trustees of Woolton Village Club have again kindly donated their facilities to us and all of our musicians are playing in support of our charity.

Confirmed artists thus far:
Lexi Senior
Adam Martin
Martin Fyles and Sam Dawson
Michelle Nuckley

Our You Tube Channel features music from Lexi, Michelle and Mannaquin from our last Band Night at the Club.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Latest News - April 2010

The Thembinkosi Foundation is looking for volunteers to help us move forward our project to Build a School in Zambia. We are looking for a minimum of three people to take over as Trustees of our charity. This will then allow our current Trustees (Adrian and Betty) to make a move to Southern Africa in order to manage the next phase in the building of our school! Will is also stepping down as a Trustee as he is moving to the West Indies where he will oversee our Carribean fundraising venture.

As a Trustee you would be responsible for monitoring the work of our charity - particularly with regard to how we spend the funds that are raised. The role of Trustee is pivotal for any charity but it is not necessarily a time consuming post. Please drop me a line if you are interested or would want more details of what's involved.

As always we are looking for as many people as possible to assist us in our fundraising ventures! Now the Spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere it's an ideal time to embark on Sponsored Events. Please consider running/cycling/walking or the alike on behalf of our charity. We lack the institutionalised organisation of larger charities and thus are dependent upon YOU to help us achieve our goal!

On Friday 16th April we are having another of our famous Band Nights. We are heading back to Woolton Village Club in Liverpool. It promises to be another fantastic evening and Will has put together a fantastic line up on the bill. Check out our Thembinkosi Fundraiser 'event' for more details or contact Will, Betty or Adrian for more information.

Betty and I will be making the move to the region where our school is to be built in the near future. We have decided that the only way to make our dream a reality is to be on the ground. We will continue to support ourselves financially by taking work in the region and thus ensure that all monies raised by our fundraising ventures go directly to the project. We have no paid fundraisers or administrators and thus we can guaratee that all funds rasied go to help to provide education for some of the world's most vulnerable children.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our model for a Green School that helps empower the poor

We feel that our model for education as something new to offer in that in incorporates the best practice from similar projects whilst having a thoroughly unique angle.

We have researched extensively into the provision of Green Schools across the globe and have discovered that despite the fact the in our opinion 'green is the new gold' and has enormous potential for sustainable economic development there are very few purpose built 'green' schools anywhere in either the 'developed' or 'developing world.' We are convinced that our model is one that can be replicated throughout Africa and can lead to the empower of communities that are currently marginalised. We would argue that there are opportunities for Africa to lead the way globally in terms of green living and that this can be a key to development.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CAFOD - the truth about where your money goes

I recently came across this article about CAFOD (the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development). It was posted as a reply to an article in the Telegraph.

'CAFOD spends £49m a year, of which £6m on political campaigns in the UK. I would like to see charities required by law to devote their resources to charitable works, not politics. Of the £49m a year it spends, £13m is on salaries and pensions for its UK staff. Those
salaries average more than £35K a year. While not a fortune from a middle-class perspective, this is an average, and one that is well above the average salary in the UK as a whole, raising questions over whether the charity is being run in the interests of its employees.
Donors may not realise that much of the money they donate is going on salaries and pensions, and only once those are covered will anything at all be left over for charitable works. CAFOD spends £1.5m a year on professional consultancy fees. The director of CAFOD pays himself £76,892 a year, plus a further £7,689 in pension contributions for himself. Once again, there are plenty of people on six-figure salaries in the UK who might view that salary as unremarkable, but this is meant to be the “voluntary sector”. In fact, the CAFOD director’s salary is an increase from £71258 in 2008. You might ask why such a large salary increase is justified in the voluntary sector in a year with little inflation. I expect the current disaster in Haiti will
produce further salary increases for the CAFOD director this year. CAFOD admits it spends £6m a year on politics and £6m a year on fundraising, and is happy to quote in its annual accounts a figure showing the balance of £37m is devoted to its “international campaigns”, but simply maths shows that the salaries of many of its UK staff are being rolled into that, and that the real frontline spending figure is much lower. Actually once £7m in “operating costs” and £2m in “support costs” are deducted, only £28m of CAFOD’s annual income of £49m is given in grants under its international programme. Charitable donors may be surprised that this is so low as a proportion of the whole. While £13m of this £28m is devoted to disaster relief grants
and £6.7m to sustainable livelihoods, people may be surprised that some of the grants are for yet more political work in foreign countries. £1.7m of the grants was for “economic advocacy” and £1.4m was for “human rights” and £1.2m was for “conflict resolution”. While
CAFOD does do charitable works, the real frontline work of the organisation in genuine charitable and non-political fields amounts to about half of the organisation’s expenditure…

I regard most of the charitable sector in the UK as a vast scam. It may be legal what they do, but in my eyes these charities are run in the interests of their UK employees, and in fact could be seen, morally, if not legally, as embezzling charitable donations to spend on themselves. There needs to be legal maximum that charity workers can spend on themselves, and that needs to be below the national average wage. Eg: a max of £20K a year with no pension contributions or “expenses”, whether for the directors or anyone else. There needs to be much more pro bono work for charities and much less creaming off donations into personal bank accounts. By reducing salaries to £20K a year and deleting political campaigning in the UK and political work in the third world, CAFOD would save £17m, producing a 70% increase in the funds available for real frontline work on disaster relief and sustainable livelihoods. Now why do I think that’s NOT going to happen…'

None of this surprises me given the institutionalised nature of the large UK charities.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

November Updates and Fundraising News

Thank you to all of you who atended our Band Night @ Woolton Village Club last Friday. The night was a resounding success and we raised over £1100!!! Every penny of the money raised wiill go directly towards our project to build and sustain a school in Zambia!!!

This Friday (6th November) we're doing it all over again!! This time we're putting on a Bands Night @ Shenanigans Irish Pub in central Liverpool. It's £5 on the door and is on from 8pm till late! It promises to me a great night of beer, banter, music and dancing. It would be great to see you there!

Thanks again to all our members. It is inspiring to know that over 1800 people have taken the time to support our cause. We are deeply humbled and with your help and support we know that we can make real differneces in the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. Unllike most large institutionalised charities we do not employ any fundraisers or administrators and as such we guarantee that 100% of the money we raise goes directly to where it is needed. Furthermore, we also meet all of the costs associated with the running of the charity from our own resources. This again ensures that not one penny donated to our cause is misused or wasted.

Please continue to support us in whatever way you can. Inviite all your friends to join the cause, post on our message boards (it's nice to know we're loved!?!) or if possible help us to fundraise. Perhaps you could arrange or participate in a sponsored event on our behalf? You might be able to involve work colleagues or fellow students? Every little bit helps!

Do not hesitate to contact Will, Betty or I for more information about how you can help us.

Thanks again for all your support.