| The importance of building safe learning environments for learners is something that cannot be overstated. While it’s true that every student learns a bit differently from the next, the environment itself plays a significant role in their development. Safe learning environments translate into comfortable learning environments. It is against such a background that a Social Accountability Team (SAT) trained by Heal Zimbabwe in Tsholotsho North convened a School Development Committee (SDC) dialogue meeting on 30 January 2020.|
The objective of the dialogue meeting was to conscientize community members on the need to create a safe learning environment for children as well as ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 that provides for quality education. The dialogue meeting also sought to discuss progress made in the construction of a school block to cater for grade one pupils. Presently, some pupils are learning under a tree shade. Before the commencement of the dialogue meeting, the SAT explained to community members the need to create a safe environment for children and how quality education helps to build capacity and knowledge of children, helping them to make informed decisions about their lives and their community. Education can lead to many positive outcomes, such as an improved ability to understand policies, procedures, rights, duties, government schemes, legislation, available benefits, and protection laws. The meeting was attended by the ward Councillor, Headman, 6 Village heads, school head and 85 community members.
Topical during the discussion was how community members can volunteer to mould bricks for the school block as a way of reducing costs for the school and also fostering a culture of ownership among community members. It was also unanimously agreed that as a way of raising revenue for the classroom block, the school was supposed to start a vegetable project. Headman Ndlovu also promised to engage Lodzi Hunters, a safari operator that won the tender to exploit timber in the area, to also make contributions towards the school block as part of corporate social responsibility. In light of this, the Headman promised to give feedback during a dialogue slated for end of month.
The Social Accountability dialogues are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s advocacy initiative that seeks to promote social cohesion and improve service delivery within local communities. Cohesive communities help establish harmony so that people are tolerant of each other and live together in peace. Added to this, the dialogues also seek to bring the voices of citizens into governance, enabling citizens to monitor and provide feedback on the delivery of services, and helping to build trust between rights holders and duty bearers.