Editor's Comment

Save SOS children

SOS Children's Village of Zambia.

THE SOS Children’s Villages Association has been part of the country’s social protection care system since being established in 1996, and so any activity that seems to change this status raises concern.
The SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting vulnerable children and adolescents in four different locations by providing day care, education, medical assistance and vocational training.
Its focus has been family-strengthening programmes in view of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The organisation has been supporting families affected by HIV/AIDS in order to strengthen existing family ties and enable children who are at risk of losing parental care to grow up within a caring family environment.
Children who cannot be taken care of by their own families have found a loving home in one of the SOS families.
For this, the SOS deserves commendation for coming to the aid of the vulnerable children and giving them hope for the future through education.
Beyond serving the vulnerable children, SOS also opened up its education space to other members of the nearby community, who paid a small fee, thereby supplementing Government’s education for all policy.
Therefore, signals of SOS Villages pulling out sponsorship is quite disturbing because of the important role the institution plays in that area.
It is, however, good that the SOS will continue running the villages where the vulnerable children are housed although they intend to give up the school.
It is also good that there is a proactive stance taken by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), who have offered to continue running the school should the withdrawal of SOS be formalised.
The oversight stance taken by the PTA is commendable because it will forestall the disruption of operations of the school.
The community is genuinely interested in the smooth transition from SOS to PTA with the blessings of Government.
It is therefore imperative for SOS to make it clear so that the PTA can pick it up from there.
Nobody is interested in the academic calendar of the school being disturbed by uncertainties.
The school has everything it requires – infrastructure, teachers and pupils.
In the event of SOS pulling out, the PTA can run the school as interim administrators while awaiting Government to take over or through an alternative sponsor.
Currently, SOS is preferred because it is one of the most affordable schools in terms of fees in relation to facilities and quality of services.
If, or when, SOS leaves and hands over the school to the PTA, they may make some upward adjustments to the fees to ensure that the school is able to pay the teachers and other auxiliary staff awaiting Government takeover.
Government has no problems taking over the school once the ownership is resolved amicably.
Government has in the past taken over mission schools and hospitals and SOS should not be an exception or a challenge.
Pupils should not be disturbed because most of the public schools are overcrowded.
Teachers, too, should take heart while a solution towards the future management of the school is being handled by the PTA and other concerned authorities.
The PTA has already made a commitment to take over the school should the SOS formally inform it.
There is no need for a void.
Going forward, there should be transparency in the future of the school so that all stakeholders are duly informed.

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