Teaching & Literacy, Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe

As a teaching volunteer on this rural school literacy programme you provide much-needed teaching assistance to under-resourced schools in Africa’s adventure capital, Victoria Falls. Support teachers plus give extra lessons, help with after-school clubs, homework and sports.

Become a teaching volunteer at a Children in the Wilderness-sponsored rural school just outside Victoria Falls in western Zimbabwe. Teaching specialists from Children in the Wilderness, local teachers and the Ministry of Education developed a comprehensive Literacy Pack for use by teachers, partially qualified teachers (or those learning on the job) and volunteers, to ensure that the Jabulani school children have the best chance of a good education. The school is situated in a very poor community area and over half the school consists of orphaned and vulnerable children. Most cannot pay their school fees and the school is run with the help of friends, tourists and NGOs.

Many African education systems encourage children to learn by rote or repetition and there is often too many children in a class to make sure each child understands what is being taught - classes are generally above 40 and sometimes as high as 60 or 70, taught by one teaching or a partially qualified teacher. The Literacy Packs used at Jabulani school by volunteers are designed to help ensure children understand as well as memorise concepts.

As a teaching volunteer you will spend four weekdays at the school, dividing your time between working in the classroom as a teaching assistant and spending time with children individually or in small groups, helping with their English literacy and reading. There are breaks for fun, singing and games where lots of extra hands are needed! You will also help with conservation education, including taking the children to a local game park, life skills and lessons in personal hygiene.

Make an impact and help improve the education of rural schoolchildren while living in and enjoying the hustle and bustle of Africa’s Adventure Capital, Victoria Falls.

 

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT?

Provide real teaching assistance and educational support to the children of Jabulani school and witness the impact that one-on-one and small group teaching support has on children’s reading ability. Monitor and record the children’s progress as you work your way through the teaching programme.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Groups of 3-10 people - families are very welcome, please enquire for dates and details
How long can I stay for: 1 week - 4 weeks (shorter and longer placements are available on request)
Accommodation: Hostel (twin room with en-suite bathroom) or Lodge, depending on budget
Transfer time: 30 minutes
Pick up from: Victoria Falls International Airport
Meals: 3 meals a day (except where stated)
Project numbers: 3-10 (minimum group size is 3 people)
Start dates: Flexible throughout the year
How much: Variable depending on accommodation

Background

This volunteer teaching project is based just outside Africa’s adventure capital, Victoria Falls, down an unassuming dirt road opposite the airport.

Jabulani school was set up by a local Zimbabwean teacher, Sefiwe Ndlovu, who realised that hundreds of children were missing out on an education because the schools available in the Jabulani area were only accessible to the children across bush occupied by dangerous game. She set up the school in a donated tent under the shade of a tree in the current school grounds. Today there is a primary and secondary school providing a good education for more than 300 children.

The school is funded in part by donations and in part by the Children in the Wilderness organisation  (part of Wilderness Safaris) who provide an approved literacy and life skills programme to the school, delivered by volunteers and teachers. The programme which volunteers teach is a combination of basic English literacy plus lessons in life skills, conservation education and environmental awareness, all delivered via pre-prepared lesson plans and teaching aids.

Children in the Wilderness

Children in the Wilderness was founded by the actor Paul Newman and Wilderness Safaris in 2001 to facilitate sustainable conservation through the development of leadership skills in rural African children. They began by running environmental education camps to introduce children to their wildlife heritage and build leaders of the future. Today they also run literacy, life skills and education programmes in rural schools across Southern Africa.

Teaching professionals from Children in the Wilderness worked with local schoolteachers, education experts and government leaders to develop a literacy pack which is used in rural schools to enhance the children’s educational experience.

Highlights

  • Give teaching support to help children get better life skills education
  • Work with teachers to help children understand and, importantly, enjoy their lessons
  • Hands-on teaching using teaching packs and reading books aimed at improving English
  • Help create fun and interactive classroom activities
  • Provide individual attention to children who may be withdrawn or falling behind in class
  • Help with projects, focusing on animals and the environment
  • Get involved with the community and school gardens
  • Experience a real taste of Zimbabwean culture, food and hospitality!
  • Experience Victoria Falls and have the chance to do a day trip to Botswana or spend a weekend in Hwange National Park - home to amazing wildlife and stunning landscapes
  • A REAL teaching programme where the work you do and lessons you teach have a real impact
  • Help uplift the community through education, conservation and sports
  • Gain teaching experience in a challenging environment - provide that much-needed extra pair of hands!

What sort of things will I be doing?

This is a full time teaching and educational development programme where you will spend weekdays in the school or taking children on educational field trips into local private game reserves. One afternoon a week is dedicated to sports or volunteers can choose to bring their own skills and interest and involve the children in new activities such as drama, music or art.

Volunteer Teaching and Literacy:
There are 300 children in the local school from Grade 0 (5 years), up to Form 5 (16 years), although in reality some of the children are much older than 16 but have been held back to try and complete their certificate. In addition to delivering the Children in the Wilderness literacy programme, volunteers also get involved with a conservation education programme, to foster a sense of pride in the natural beauty around them and open the children’s eyes to career opportunities in conservation and tourism.

  • Deliver an English literacy programme to small groups of children
  • Help with lessons in life skills and conservation education
  • Teach basic numeracy and literacy to the youngest children (days of the week, counting, colours, animals)
  • Give one-to-one support to bright children or those getting left behind
  • Play sports and games; be warned, before you challenge any to a race, these children run FAST!
  • Help with gardening and maintenance around the school
  • Help teachers develop new teaching material
  • Make school resources such as posters and flash cards to stimulate the children
  • Give short talks on aspects of the your home country / job / family etc

Conservation and Life Skills Education:

  • Helping to teach the children about keeping themselves and their environment clean and healthy
  • Personal hygiene lessons (e.g. about the importance of hand washing and brushing teeth)
  • Workshops in health, safety, nutrition, first-aid, courtesies, oral and general hygiene
  • Accompany the children on an excursion into a local game park where many of them will see big game for the first time
  • Teach children about the importance of caring for the wildlife and their environment
  • Teaching about environmental care, litter-picking, recycling
  • Helping with the upkeep and development of the school to keep it an inspiring and stimulating place to learn
  • Help maintain the school’s two vegetable gardens

After-School Clubs:

  • Help with extra reading and writing - give children the extra encouragement and support they need, either if they are keen to learn and are ahead of their class, or if they find it more difficult
  • Help them practice their English outside of lessons
  • Help with homework
  • Play sports
  • Arts and crafts

Holiday programme
Children often attend school during the school holidays, in part to catch up or do extra lessons and also to get a meal. Volunteers hep with:

  • Extra reading and writing with children who struggle (or who are really good!)
  • Adult literacy - to local sports teams, women’s groups and young adults who had to leave school early
  • Sports - helping with lessons, organising matches and tournaments
  • Environmental activities - studying the area around them, doing projects about animals etc
  • Arts and crafts, drawing, painting

Outside the Classroom:

African children are very energetic and will happily challenge you to a game of soccer or netball. You will assist with sports and also with practical activities such as cooking, cleaning, chopping wood, gardening and laundry!

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

No specific teaching qualifications or experience are needed and before you go to the school you will receive full training from Children in the Wilderness on how to use your classroom packs. Although this teaching project is classroom based, you will be given all the materials you need before you go into a classroom and will start off by helping the teachers.

As you become more confident you will help individual students or take small groups for extra lessons or project work. The children are keen to learn and VERY enthusiastic! If you have a can-do, flexible attitude and an interest in children, then this is the project for you!

We will require a valid (less than 12 months old) Police Certificate from your country of residence.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is a return transfer to the programme accommodation in Victoria Falls town - either from the International Airport or from another destination within the town.

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the volunteer programme; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from Victoria Falls on the scheduled date and time
  • Accommodation and meals for the duration of your programme (exc. alcoholic and fizzy drinks and excluding dinner at the weekend) - the price is based on shared budget lodgings, but other accommodation is available on request
  • All programme-related transport and materials required to do your work
  • 24 hour support and guidance from the volunteer programme staff
  • Donation to the school you will be working in

The programme cost excludes:

  • Transport by air or bus to Victoria Falls
  • Visas (note you must request a tourist visa upon arrival)
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet

Culturally appropriate clothing

Female teachers in Zimbabwe are expected to wear long skirts and modest tops which do not show their shoulders. While we do not expect volunteers to adhere to strict dress codes, we would ask that you are mindful of the policy expected of permanent teachers and to dress appropriately. Trousers, knee length skirts or knee length shorts are appropriate, hot pants most definitely are NOT.

Male Zimbabwean teachers are required to wear a suit with tie so we recommend that male teaching volunteers wear either long trousers or knee length shorts with a collared t-shirt or shirt. Vests are not appropriate school wear for guys!

A day in the life

Volunteers generally spend 4 days a week at the school doing a combination of teaching, sports, gardening and conservation education. The remaining days will be at leisure where you can choose to take game drives in the stunning Zambezi National Park, have your fill of wild, adrenalin activities or explore the town, marvelling at the wildlife you see just walking up the road - warthogs are especially prolific!

Get up around 7.00am and have a hearty breakfast at your lodgings, going over your lesson plan for the day. School starts at 8.00am in Africa so you will need to be there early!

After a big breakfast you will go to the school and spend the morning with the primary school children and teachers. They will all be VERY excited to see you and give you a welcome dance when you arrive! You’ll be introduced to your group of children and their teachers and start with their reading.

Have lunch with the teachers and find out what challenges they face. Spend some time with the pre-school children playing in the sand.

Spend the afternoon taking the older children into the game park for a drive. Introduce the kids to their wildlife heritage - often the first time many will have learnt about animals. Return to your accommodation and cool down in the pool and have a refreshing drink in the bar. Or take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi and enjoy the sounds of the hippos and elephants.

Dinner is usually served at 6.30-7.00pm and then the evening is your own!

Pricing and Dates

When can I volunteer?

We ask that teaching volunteers try to arrive in Victoria Falls on a Sunday, ready for their orientation on Monday morning. However the project can be very flexible so please email us if you need to start on a different day.

The project is closed from early December to mid January for the Christmas holidays. However volunteers are still required during other school holidays as many children take extra lessons.

Project pricing:

Please note that projects will be tailored to group requirements so fees will vary depending on accommodation choices, group size and length of stay. The following prices are examples based on budget accommodation and are subject to availability.
2 weeks $1,395
3 weeks $1,885
4 weeks $2,340
Each additional week $585

View our booking terms and conditions.

Please note that we can accommodate volunteers in various standards of accommodation within Victoria Falls, so the final cost may change if different accommodation is required. The price above is  for budget accommodation which is popular, clean and convenient.

Accommodation

We can accommodate groups of volunteers or families at various facilities in Victoria Falls, depending on your budget and requirements. This can vary from budget shared accommodation in a busy and popular backpackers lodge, to luxury accommodation at one of Victoria Falls' amazing lodges. Please let us know what your requirements are when you enquire!

Reviews

It is impossible for me to write what I enjoyed the most about my time in Victoria Falls - the people, the animals or the nature that surrounds you. I have never felt happier and more comfortable than with the people who I met on this project - they have 100% integrity.

It was nice to combine the leisurely accommodation of Victoria Falls town with the programme out at Jabulani and I felt it gave exactly the right balance.We also loved the extra trip to visit Hwange National Park, the bird watching, drinks at the lodge and “the perfect evening” - watching the moon rise over the Zambezi.

I’ll certainly stay in touch with Conservation Travel Africa and I intend to continue to support the school everywhere I can. I miss the children and am eager to learn about their progress.I would like to thank the inspirational people I met on my Zimbabwe adventure and who ensured it was a most amazing experience!

Dries Platteau, Belgium
Victoria Falls Teaching & Literacy

Destination

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is the true home of Conservation Travel Africa as our founders were all born and still live there. Zimbabwe is often in the international news for the wrong reasons but the reality is quite different and tourism is beginning to grow again in one of Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt countries.

The country offers something for every traveller - from the absolute wilderness of Gonarezhou and Mana Pools to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the hustle and bustle of Africa’s adventure capital,  Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is rich in colour and the people have retained their resolve, sense of humour and friendliness.

No trip to Zimbabwe would be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls. Mosi-au-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders) is accepted to have the largest sheet of falling water in the world (1,708m wide and 108m high) and is located on the far western tip of Zimbabwe on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. As well as the Falls being a definite must-see for visitors, Victoria Falls town is a also lively centre for adventure. For white water rafting the best time to visit is when the waters in the Zambezi are low (August - December) - these rapids have often been referred to as the best one-day white water rafting in the world.

Hwange National Park: at 14,000 square kilometers, Hwange is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. With some of the most unspoilt wild areas in Zimbabwe, an abundance of elephants as well as leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and over 100 bird species, a trip to Hwange must be on everyones To Do list.

Mana Pools National Park: Mana Pools is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, wilderness and remote beauty. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its wildness and beauty together with its wide range of large mammals and birdlife. The name “mana” means “four” in Shona, relating to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River, the remnants of four ancient ox-bow lakes. Spread over 2,196 square km, the Park is part of a region of 10,500 square km, from the Kariba Dam to the Mozambique border, which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area. It is the only National Park where visitors are allowed to walk unaccompanied by a guide.

Lake Kariba: the world’s third largest man-made lake offers spectacular elephant and buffalo sitings on its shores as well as being home to the ferocious tiger fish! Take the 24-hour ferry from Milibizi on the southern tip to Kariba town in the north and witness the beauty of remotest Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s late Iron Age, in around the 11th Century. One of its most prominent features are its 5m high stone walls, constructed entirely without mortar and the ruins are some of the oldest, largest and most impressive stone structures in Southern Africa. The city was built over a period of 300 years and it is believed that over 18,000 people lived there at its peak before being eventually abandoned and falling into ruins.

Nyanga: Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is home to rolling green hills, majestic waterfalls and the country’s highest peak, Mount Inyangani. A tranquil retreat from the heat of the Lowveld, Nyanga is a haven for bird-lovers and hikers and is also home to rivers ideal for tubing and canoeing.

What will the weather be like?

During the Zimbabwe summer (September - April) temperatures at in Victoria Falls average 28-30°c and can regularly reach 35°c plus. In addition to the appropriate clothing, volunteers a wide-brimmed hat or cap, polarised sunglasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and lightweight closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 15-20°c.

During winter (May - mid-August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings can get down to 7-10°c (and it has been known to frost!) so volunteers are advised to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose cotton clothing for daytime.

Excursions

Do I get some time off?

Volunteers get weekends off and one afternoon per week to relax and enjoy life in Africa. There is plenty of things to do in Victoria Falls town or you can choose to do an optional weekend excursion into Hwange National Park or Chobe National Park in Botswana. If you have time a trip across the border in Livingstone is also worthwhile to see the Falls from a different angle!


Combination Projects

We highly recommend making the most out of your trip to Africa and consider combining two or more volunteer projects. You could start and finish in the same place (Harare to Harare) or use it as an opportunity to get from one country to another (e.g. Zimbabwe to Namibia).

Take a look at a selection of tailor made itineraries that previous volunteers have enjoyed.

Family Volunteering

Volunteering with your family? This project is perfect 

This volunteer teaching project welcomes families who wish to bring their children to enjoy this amazing experience. There will be some activities which are less suitable for younger children, but there are plenty of amazing experiences which they will love!

We have had children as young as 8 on this programme, accompanied by parents and grandparents! We believe that it is never to early to teach your children about other cultures and we have found that it is very rewarding for both the African children and foreign children to learn from each other.

Please email us if you are interested in volunteering with your family.

Project Gallery - Teaching & Literacy, Victoria Falls

Testimonials

Teaching & Literacy, Victoria Falls We hope that volunteers will continue to support this and other rural schools, to make sure as many children as possible can benefit. The time at Jabulani School spent with the Grade 1 and 2 children was amazing - the best! We were first assigned children who could already read some English so, after a day or two we talked to the Headmistress and asked her to assign us children who needed more assistance. We could ... Sheila D, Australia Read More
Teaching & Literacy, Victoria Falls It was the best holiday we have ever had ! We miss the children, the community workers, the headmistress, the hosts, and Mosi-O-Tunya! Thank you so much for helping us do this, we will do it again I m sure! Everyone goes volunteering with the intention of ‘doing good’, however I ended up really getting a lot out of it. I call it ‘detox for my soul’. It really was amazing seeing the children every day, ... Samir D, Abu Dhabi Read More
Teaching & Literacy, Victoria Falls You make a real difference in the school I was so impressed by the project staff and teachers values and their commitment to the environment and local communities. It was crucial for me that this experience would be more than a “feel-good” operation set up solely for tourists. I have worked with Children in the Wilderness before so I knew that their endorsement would give me the guarantee of its credibility and value. We had an absolutely amazing ... Brigitte Dierckx, Dubai Read More
Teaching & Literacy, Victoria Falls It is impossible for me to write what I enjoyed the most about my time in Victoria Falls - the people, the animals or the nature that surrounds you. I have never felt happier and more comfortable than with the people who I met on this project - they have 100% integrity. It was nice to combine the leisurely accommodation of Victoria Falls town with the programme out at Jabulani and I felt it gave exactly the ... Dries P, Belgium Read More

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