Just 6 km outside Huambo, one of the most important cities in the Angolan Central Plateau, a new modern city-style social housing development was born two years ago. It’s called the Lossambo Centralidade.
This social housing development, with housing capacity for over 2000 families, was built within a new urban housing concept launched by the Government in the last decade: the New Centralidade of the National Housing Program. It has identical four-story buildings and two-story houses, all aligned along well-designed blocks, streets and roundabouts. Besides the access road and internal streets and sidewalks, the infrastructures include public parks, public illumination, an electric power plant, a water treatment and a wastewater treatment stations.
Lossambo residents highlight the infrastructures, the safety and tranquillity when considering the Centralidade as a quiet and nice place to live. They are mostly middle-class civil servants, like teachers and local administration high officials, under 45 years old, with an average of three children per couple.
For these families, finding a good school for their children have always been at their top concerns, and moving 6 km away from the city could be an extra issue. It could be, but it wasn’t, because Green Innovations’ investee Focus Education built school units in Lossambo Centralidade.
Lossambo Schools is a pilot project in Angola that provides complete education service, from nursery to secondary school, for all the children and teenagers in Lossambo Centralidade, through building and equipment of education facilities and staff training. The project was firstly developed to address the need for schools and kindergartens in this suburban neighbourhood, with the purpose of enhancing the resident families’ quality of life through high quality solutions for their children’s education needs. Eventually, it ended up being a case study of social inclusion, when the vacancies not filled by Lossambo students became available to the children of neighbouring villages.
To build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all, as well as substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including teacher training, in developing countries, are actually two targets of SDG 4 - Quality Education met by Focus Education in this project. But these are not the only ones. In fact, with Lossambo Schools, Focus gives the chance to numerous girls and boys to complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. At the same time, it gives numerous girls and boys access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education. In all school units, it eliminates gender disparities in education, ensuring equal access to all levels for the vulnerable. On the other hand, it encourages all learners to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
Lossambo Schools include three kindergartens, one primary school and two secondary schools, with 82 classrooms and a global teaching capacity for 4580 students. According to the school levels, these structures are equipped with playgrounds, sports rings, libraries with computers and multimedia teaching materials, science laboratories and support facilities like kitchens and laundries in the kindergartens. All facilities are fully accessible for children with disabilities, with smooth (no steps) entries into buildings, toilets for the disabled and wide corridors.
For the first school year, 192 workers, among teachers, educators and support staff, were recruited to work here. Most of them attended a specific training program promoted by Focus Education in the Province of Huambo for 380 education professionals.
Until the third quarter of 2017, by the time of the impact assessment made by Green Innovations, Lossambo Schools were all working under their full capacity. The students enrolled at all levels equalled 3626, as the Centrality school aged children were still moving in and waiting to be transferred from their previous schools. The extra capacity allowed the enrolment of children from the neighbouring villages, which accounted for 83% of the primary school pupils and 60% of the total students enrolled at all levels.
With only one semester complete, it was too early to assess statistics or school grades and take conclusions of the impact of the new schools in students’ performance. From the interviews carried out, the general perception about the schools among teachers, educators, directors, staff, students and parents was that these were good places to work, teach and learn, as well as safe and trustworthy places for parents to put their children. They were all new, modern, beautiful, clean and well equipped. There was a general sense in the community that these structures were something they should be proud and take care of.
Emiliana Cassinda Sangueve (pic1), secondary school student, told the impact assessment team she felt “very happy here at school, because of the quality. Here we have very well-equipped classrooms, offices, music study rooms and all the teachers are great. It is cool studying here!”
The empowerment of the school community in the preservation of the new equipment and facilities involved some awareness actions. Many children, especially the ones who came from the outside villages, didn't know how to use a toilet, a tap or a drinking fountain, or the toys in the playground. It was thus necessary to teach them how to use the school equipment without damaging it.
The awareness sessions in schools were actually integrated in a wider program in Lossambo Centrality, aiming to tackle the main possible issues that can arise to people moving into a city and learning how to live in an urban community.
So far, according to the teachers and educators, these students were behaving well. The best examples of good grades and good behaviour were from the students that came from the outside villages, who studied harder, in spite of having to walk a longer distance to school, because they felt they were lucky for having the chance to study in a new school in the "city". In general, there has been a good environment between students, with almost no occurrences of violence, bullying or discrimination. While for the students, it was like a social upgrade to study in the new schools, the same goes to teachers and staff, regarding their new working conditions and the training they benefitted from Focus. Alcino Manuel Saiengue, (pic2) Chemistry teacher at the Secondary School, considered Focus Education's training at Lossambo as “satisfactory and positive. The training course was very beneficial; it gave us innovation and change in terms of thinking, dealing and acting according to the new dynamics of the teaching-learning process.”
His colleague, Carlos Coliengue (pic3) Computer Science teacher at the Secondary School, agrees that “the training was a very good experience. It was very valuable to perceive the contribution that you can give in practice classes. I think that when the time comes to teach our students, we are able to revert to them what we have learned.”
Their contribution is, in fact, recognised by students. Frederico Simão,(pic4) studying at the secondary school, states that “the school motivates me very much because of the teachers. They talk to us a lot and support us in what we need.”
Lossambo Schools are indeed a good example of how the human factor strengthens the good environment bloomed from nice and pleasant, safe and inclusive structures, leading to a sense of community, shared responsibility and effective learning.