Education is a crucial element in fighting poverty, and ZASP has been committed to furthering education ever since the project was founded in 1989. Schools in Sweden and Norway have helped raising money which has enabled us to build ten school buildings: seven Government Schools and three Community Schools.
An intensified effort to fight poverty through education was launched in 2007 and has been in place ever since. The focus has been on agricultural development, democracy and equality, AIDS programmes, computer training and workshops.
Starting a folk high school has been part of the long-term planning for years. The need of in-depth knowhow in the villages was growing. Teachers with the necessary competence in agriculture and democracy were already available within the ZASP organisation, and six months into 2009 the ZASP Folk High School was well-known. Because of the overwhelming interest, day-courses had to be turned into residential courses so that women and men from remote areas could be accommodated. A lodge with sixteen double rooms has been built, and a bus has been acquired in order to transport the students.
The school offers a variety of courses, all developed with the villagers’ needs and requests in mind. The courses last from two weeks to six months. All courses are free of charge.
Education in Sustainable Agriculture
Diverse planting, improved soil conservation methods, planting drought-resistant crops, crop rotation and composting are a few of the subjects covered in the agricultural courses, which also includes group projects and hands-on exercises.
The subjects are the founding pillars of democracy, human rights, equality, leadership, opinion-forming and lobbying. Democracy within families and villages is also a vital part. Several gender-related groups are being formed which focus on the rights of children and women. The people are given information about where they can turn to seek help and justice when their rights are violated.
Two courses are offered in the computer training programme: Microsoft Word/Excel and Power Point/Publisher. The courses attract students from far away, and the spots fill up months in advance. This is the only educational programme where the majority of the participants are male, but all women who have participated have made significant progress.
The spots in the sewing course also fill up months in advance. The students learn sewing by hand, garment cutting and design as well as how to use manual and electric sewing machines.
For 15 years ZASP has had its own band. In addition to playing and entertaining at different events, the band’s songs spread important messages about subjects like AIDS, workshops, the folk high school and the oppression of women. The music courses are taught by three members of the band.
The courses include forming workshops as well as training for workshop leaders. Most of the participants have formed workshops in their own villages, as a means of furthering knowledge. The participants in the workshops share lessons and experiences with each other.
Evaluation through visiting the villages is crucial in order to form an idea of what sort of change and results the education has led to.
The ZASP monitoring team visits students and workshop participants to help, offer encouragement and evaluate progress.