Musa* is a 14 – year-old girl from Matobo who has never attended school. She sells mopani worms which she picks, prepares, and dries with the help of her family. Every day she goes to the market to sell the mopani worms to help her grandmother fend for the family. Musa however always make time to attend lessons under the FHI 360 DREAMS supported Forum for African Women Educationalists – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) Community Learning Centre.

“I have never been to school due to economic challenges, my parents passed away and my grandmother cannot afford to pay school fees for me and my siblings.”

Musa can hardly write; thus, she joined the writing class.  Her sibling nine-year-old Temba* attends a different class since he dropped out of school after completing grade two, he has basic reading and writing skills.

“I always look forward to my writing classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I never thought I will ever read or write in my lifetime. I can now write my name!” Said Musa with a smile on her face. “My brother Temba who dropped out of school at an early age joined a different class, he can now read most of his books and he can write very well. Our grandmother is very proud of the progress that we are making at the community school.”

Musa and Temba are part of many adolescent boys and girls in Beitbridge and Matobo District who are out of school for various reasons including economic challenges. The prolonged closure of schools due to COVID -19 also worsened the situation. The two districts experienced increases in cases of child marriage, teen pregnancies, and irregular cross border crossing among teenagers which contributed to school dropouts.

In partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MOPSE), DREAMS partner FAWEZI is tracking and enrolling girls and boys between the ages nine and fourteen who are out of school supporting them through community learning. A total of 25 Educators and 25 Mothers were trained in both districts to teach and mentor learners in their communities. The Educators are either retired or unemployed qualified teachers and the mothers are community cadres who were trained and equipped with skills to provide mentorship. Additionally, 70 schools within the vicinity of the community learning centres were trained on Gender Responsive Pedagogy to support re-entry of these learners and 70 more schools were supported with stationery to enhance the teaching and learning process.