Education is a human right and for years, Kudakwashe Muhlanga, like many others, has worked to ensure that all children and young people have access to education as prescribed by Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education has dominated the global development agenda for decades. Existing efforts made in the education sector have been towards guaranteeing the right to education responsively and holistically while not leaving anyone behind. Whereas historically, the focus was solely on curriculums and ensuring learners get into the classrooms, recent approaches have widened the concept to include the learning environment and learner support programs. These efforts also revealed a complex and multidimensional nature of education as a development issue and the need to design and adopt approaches that adequately address different education-related problems outlined in the various development agendas.
Sustainable Development Goal 4 commits to ensuring inclusive, equitable, quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. By so doing, the goal holistically advances the promotion of education and particularly emphasizes promoting lifelong learning opportunities.
Despite laws and policies meant to fulfill, respect, and protect the right to education for all in Zimbabwe, as in most African countries, access to quality and equitable education is not guaranteed for every child. Children are inherently vulnerable and dependent on others to enjoy their rights including the right to education.
Kudakwashe’s early efforts in child rights work were focused on promoting the right to education by providing educational support through scholarships in specific areas around rural Zimbabwe. And these paid off for so many learners who got the support they needed to stay or return to school. Still, there did not seem to be a direct bearing on their educational results. This compelled her to question what ensuring the right to education means. And as a question for all, how often do we, in our well-intentioned efforts in education, do we reflect on lifelong learning outcomes?
Kudakwashe’s passion for education has always been towards supporting disenfranchised children and young people and improving their educational outcomes so that they stand a better chance of leading productive livelihoods in adulthood. Although orphaned and vulnerable children have been getting educational support mostly through scholarships, guaranteeing them positive life learning outcomes and opportunities is another matter.
She is piloting the We Educate Community Initiative (WECI) – a community-based, volunteer-driven initiative providing free extra lessons to disenfranchised learners and drawing from volunteers in the teaching and non-teaching professions. What started as an individual effort in 2020 providing individual free extra lessons is now a community-based initiative that seeks to leverage local community resources to realize SDG4. WECI provides easily accessible and individualized educational support through tutoring for Grade (primary education) and Form 4 (junior secondary education) learners who wish to sit for the national examinations. To read more about WECI, visit weci.co.zw.
For everyone, education is and always a means to an end. And we all in our way, envision a meaningful, and successful end. There are others in our communities like children and young people who for one reason or another need a helping hand to realize a similar end. It takes all of us to facilitate inclusive and equitable lifelong learning opportunities for every learner.
Kudakwashe Muhlanga is a development practitioner committed to human development with over six years of experience in the civil society sector across different fields including child protection, education, gender, youth development, health, and social protection. Outside of work, she is an avid researcher, writer, mentor, and volunteer who spends her time working with children and young people in need of care.
Kudakwashe is a 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Alumni. She also serves as a board member and committee member for local community-based organizations. Kudakwashe holds an MSc. in Child Sensitive Social Policies and a BSc. (Hons) degree in Peace and Governance.