The year 2022 starts off on an exciting note for MIET AFRICA. A regional research study on youth agency is being conducted across five countries in Southern Africa, including Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The FutureLife-Now! programme recognizes that a key reason for the lack of progress towards achieving the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is that youth lack the agency required to engage in responsible behaviours. The “Youth Agency Research Study” is part of a FutureLife-Now! activity that seeks to establish evidence on how to better support young people to exercise their rights and their responsibilities.
The study aims to analyse barriers that prevent youth from exercising agency at the personal, household, community, national and regional levels. The findings of the study will be published in a report, and a video will highlight implications for the implementation of the SADC Child and Youth Agency Framework,
Last year, as schools in Zimbabwe prepared to close and everyone looked forward to the festive season, a group of learners at Fort Rixon were in for a surprise that would change their lives. Thirty large boxes were delivered to the school and inside each box were all the pieces necessary to assemble a brand new bicycle.
The bicycles were an incentive from the FutureLife-Now! programme. The local FutureLife-Now! team helped assemble the bicycles which were handed over to the learners in the presence of their parents and School Development Committee members on 22 December 2021, three days before Christmas!
Fort Rixon is a secondary school located in the Matabeleland South province of Zimbabwe. The school is surrounded by farming areas and a mine. One of the biggest challenges the school faces is absenteeism, mainly caused by the long distances that learners must travel. Some learners walk as many as 15 kilometres to school in the morning and the same distance back home in the afternoon.
Hoes, trowels, and fertilizers were just some of the items that found their way to the FutureLife-Now! pilot schools in Malawi. The equipment, delivered to the schools in June 2021, was provided to enable the establishment of school gardens.
The idea of a FutureLife-Now! garden project was a way of ensuring that learners would be empowered and equipped with knowledge in crop farming. Each school received hand trowels, hand forks, rakes, pangas, watering canes, wheelbarrows, hoes, a sprayer, two 50kg bags of fertiliser, 10 packets of vegetable seeds, four bottles of chemicals, and a measuring string. Agriculture teachers gave learners practical lessons on farming, specifically on establishing and managing food gardens, and how to care for various crops and vegetables. The teachers put their hearts into the project by continuously building capacity of learners in managing the gardens.
Through the garden project, learners acquired agricultural skills that many were able to apply in establishing their own gardens at home.
Two years after the 2019 launch of the FutureLife-Now! programme in Lesotho, the time had arrived for a formal reflection. Produced at the end of 2021, the aim of the reports from all 10 outreach schools was to reflect on the objectives that the FutureLife-Now! programme had met in relation to its goal of reducing new HIV infections and increasing adherence to ART amongst youth in the SADC Region.
The reports from all ten outreach schools stated that through the availability of e-platforms in schools (laptops, screens and projectors) learners have become acquainted with different virtual platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, which were mostly used for interschool webinar dialogues in order to discuss an array of topics.
“Students showed confidence and learned a lot from their counterparts,” said Victoria Kente, principal of St Saviours High School. “This sparked excitement amongst learners and later,
Of the many exciting activities supported by FutureLife-Now! at Naboye Secondary School in Zambia’s Kafue district, the production unit is one of the programmes that has grown in leaps and bounds.
The production unit of the 53-year-old school undertakes farming projects to help the school raise finances. The unit aims to develop farming skills in the learners which eventually result in a supply of fresh produce.
FutureLife-Now! has been active at Naboye since 2020 and learners have been actively involved in the many projects that fall under the production unit. “Working with learners has been the most interesting thing when it comes to the school’s production unit,” says Alice Kaunga, the school’s FutureLife-Now! focal person. “The interest shown by the learners in the production unit has been so impressive that it has attracted even those learners who were initially not interested in coming on board.”
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Since its adoption by SADC Ministers of Education in 2008, the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Framework has been instituted within the South African Department of Basic Education as a guide for mainstreaming care and support. An evaluation of CSTL was planned for 2019/2020, but with the advent of the coronavirus in early 2020, this was not possible. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and related government lockdowns have resulted in numerous consequences for the education sector and the children it serves. It was thus determined necessary to conduct a rapid evaluation of CSTL implementation in schools, to determine how schools have coped during the COVID-19 period. The findings of the rapid evaluation were presented at the November 2021 CSTL conference, as a contribution to discussions around strengthening the system for effective delivery of school-based care and support services and preparing the system and schools for future disruptions or emergencies.