Introducing Iwell Banda (fifth from right in the photo above) – husband to Lizzy, father to Havila, New Moon Children’s College tutor, physical development coach and coordinator of our students’ volunteering programme.
Iwell has spent the best part of a year with Our Moon, firstly as a volunteer and now a paid member of the team in Zambia. I caught up with him yesterday to talk about his role and how he sees it developing.
“The main problem in Zambia is the traditional mindset that pervades our life. People are not willing to look to new ideas to help them develop as individuals and for the nation to grow. Children need to grow up knowing that there are different ways of learning and that it is important to continue learning. We try to teach them about universal knowledge through experiential learning. We combine topics like planting trees with maths – we teach about the distance between planting them and why it is important.
Locally, there are too many children not going to school. On the surface, parents will say it is because they don’t have the money. But the even sadder fact is that whether a child is in school or out of school, they often fail to learn. A teacher here in Chibombo will have a class of 80 children. She is probably so exhausted by the lack of resources and the need to keep children in order, that her lessons become boring.
There is also the confusion in Zambia that Grades 1-3 have to be taught in the local language. Not everyone understands the local language – we have 73 in Zambia – and they fail to learn. Once they move up to Grade 4, they are taught in English. Some don’t understand a word of English, so again they don’t learn.
So parents don’t send their children to school because they can’t see that it really makes a difference.
At New Moon Children’s College, we keep the children very busy and excited to learn. They discover things for themselves. They love playing sports, but they equally sit engrossed in some maths problems. We have a few books, but mostly I am able to use You Tube videos to engage the children.
The children’s English has gone from being very hesitant to fluent in a year. That means the older children can go to the local school. I had a very proud moment when Ali topped his class. And of course, there is a knock on effect in the local school. As Ali enjoys learning, other children are more engaged and want to join our classes.
One of the youngest children is Joshua, the son of one of the local builders. He asks so many questions now and always likes to give an answer even when he doesn’t know it. His participation in class is 100%.
Our Moon’s students help to tutor the children in English and Maths, and participate together in You and Your Body sessions.
In the short term, I want the children to be curious about what is around them, be confident to ask questions and be able to find out answers.
My dream is for New Moon Children’s College to expand to be able to take more local children. At the moment, the children who attend are only those from families that work for Our Moon. I hope they will also be able to take some coding classes with Our Moon’s Maths and Coding tutor. I would also hope that eventually some of the children get to become Our Moon Young Leaders and have the same opportunities as some of our students have.”