The school runs on a sustainable 2:1 fee structure which means for every 2 children whose families can pay fees, 1 child from a family who cannot pay is sponsored by the school. The fees that are charged are affordable and flexible - parents can pay in beans or in maize if they need to!
This ensures that the school is able to provide education for those children in Mlali who otherwise would not be able to access it at all, without having to be reliant on outside funding over which they have no ownership.
Currently, the school supports 65 of the 203 students registered.
This system has also meant that community buy-in is strong. Many parents in the area have not necessarily been brought up with the privilege of understanding the value of education. The team has found that when parents pay or contribute even a little to their child’s education, they also engage more with it, learn about its value and follow up with their child’s development.
This system does not yet cover all the costs of the school, but the more the school grows in depth and quality, the more it will be able to attract parents from cities and towns who are able to afford even higher means-tested fee rates, allowing the school to cover all its costs and in turn to provide education to even more children living in poverty. The completion of the boarding house will be central to this!
Photo by Hannah Clyne
Here are the school management team with their boarding house, the school’s pride and joy!
The boarding house will be the biggest income generator for the school, in combination with their sustainable fee structure. The house will attract wealthier families from the city who want a quiet place for their children to study. These children will have a safe and comfortable place to stay and be looked after during term time. As mentioned above, the fees of these children will allow the school to support even more vulnerable children from Mlali who cannot afford to pay.
It will also serve as a safe home for the students at the QEA who cannot pay fees and whose relatives are currently unable to give them the care that they need at home.
Safina Women's Group and Permaculture
QEA has established a the Safina Women’s Group to create a space for women with children supported by the school to find supportive friends and community and to grow their livelihoods.
After a recent permaculture training funded by our partners Mama Hope, they are now working together to implement a permaculture design plan for the school land. They are also teaching the children about permaculture principles, reducing waste, looking after the earth and running businesses wisely and fairly. Read more about it here.
This is Abihudi, the school’s farm manager. His daughter goes to the school and he works to ensure that the children and staff have their bellies filled. From the farm, the school gets regular harvests of sunflowers, peppers, tomatoes, bananas, chillies, sweet potatoes, spinach, cabbages, papayas, passion fruit and maize on the 36 acre piece of land that the village leadership gifted the school. The students and staff eat this produce and surplus is sold at market to bring income to the school. Along with the women’s group, Abihudi also manages the school’s tree nursery and the planting of the trees around the community.
When entirely complete, the team will rent out one of the shop units and use one of them to sell the healthy school produce and other essentials for people in the community around.