“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” – Kofi Annan at the World Bank Conference on Global Knowledge, 1997
At the Kofi Annan Foundation, we are eager to support young leaders who work to make a positive impact on the world, especially when they are involved in areas that our late Chair, Kofi Annan, held dear.
Sharon Matongo, one of our 2021 Kofi Annan Changemakers, is a young woman who fights to defend children rights in her country of Zimbabwe.
Focusing on education, this promising lawyer aims to improve and provide quality education in rural areas of Zimbabwe through her organisation: Charity Drive Zimbabwe.
Education as a human right and an agent of change
Zimbabwe’s steep economic challenges (in the past year alone, the country has suffered from annual inflation averaging 94%) severely impact its education system. They mean fewer investments than are necessary in a sector that could be a powerful agent of change.
Education contributes to poverty alleviation and improves livelihoods by helping children acquire knowledge, building their characters and developing their skills/abilities. It is also a basic Human right, included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Zimbabwean authorities are committed to fulfilling SDG4 – the sustainable development goal of quality education – but are grappling with issues preventing the improvement of the current system.
Rural areas at a disadvantage
Few institutions in Zimbabwe are able to provide quality education, and rural areas are worse affected.
Schools in rural areas operate under difficult conditions, affecting students’ academic performances. They lack adequate resources and furniture, a situation that has been exacerbated further since the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing protocol.
Better infrastructures: a key factor in quality education
In 2018 after meeting a young boy victim of blatant discrimination, Sharon decided to co-found Charity Drive Zimbabwe with her friends, Simbarashe Ruwanika and Puwayi Chiutsi, to help children living in poor rural areas benefit from quality education. Partnering with the primary school Kairos Christian Learning Centre (KCLC), Sharon and her team of 5 volunteers help 79 young students from the Goromonzi district, located 60 km outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city.
These vulnerable children, between the ages of 4 and 13, come from low-income rural households and often face poor living conditions at home. The learning environment provided at KCLC is also challenging: school building in disrepair, lack of electricity and safe drinking water, as well as a poor supply of books, stationery and up-to-date school materials.
Research has demonstrated that the concrete, physical state of a school affects the ability of students to learn effectively, therefore also impacting their future employment opportunities and development prospects for their communities.
Building Kairos Project
That is why improving classrooms and school equipment is imperative. In 2019, Sharon and her team launched the “Building Kairos Project” to refurbish classrooms (with solid walls, windows, ceilings and doors), equip them with appropriate furniture and fixtures (blackboards, tables and benches), and provide adequate learning materials to children (books, textbooks and pens).
Since 2019, thanks to donations and a grant awarded by MCW Global, Charity Drive Zimbabwe has supplied the school with up-to-date textbooks, donated stationary packs to the students and installed solar-powered electricity on the premises. These measures have already had a positive impact on the children’s academic performance (pass rate at 100% in 2019), but more needs to be done.
Through our Kofi Annan Changemakers programme, Sharon and her team intend to further renovate KCLC by painting the buildings, including each classroom’s walls, installing ceilings and doors, replacing shattered windows, providing individual desks and benches, and drilling a borehole on the premises for safe drinking water.
By providing children with a more conducive learning environment and up-to-date materials to study, Sharon’s project contributes to expanding quality education in Zimbabwe as well as development perspectives in the country. It sets an example for other rural areas, struggling with similar issues and, as such, can be a step towards wider change in Zimbabwe.
Improving livelihoods of a community
Beyond helping children get a better education, Sharon’s project will also help the whole community of Goromonzi, where many parents are unemployed. Educating the younger generation would benefit parents, neighbours and others.
Charity Drive Zimbabwe has, in fact, already helped other communities. In 2018, the organisation donated school materials to the orphans at Rose of Sharon Welfare Organisation in Zime Park, Zimbabwe. Sharon and her team also partnered with the University of Witwatersrand Zimbabwe Society to provide relief products to the victims of Cyclone Idai, which ravaged communities in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique in 2019.
Follow Sharon’s footsteps to improve the lives of your own community: get inspired, get involved and take action!
Do you want to help Sharon make a change in Zimbabwe? You can contact Charity Drive Zimbabwe to support or donate to the organisation via this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get to know Sharon better!
Our young changemaker participated in a webinar organised by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs with Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, to discuss their experience as trailblazers in foreign policy. You can watch it below:
Help us help other young Changemakers: To help the Kofi Annan Foundation support young leaders making a positive impact on the world, you can donate to our Kofi Annan Changemakers programme by clicking here.