Reviving the Mambanje Primary School

Dete is a rural township located near the Hwange National Park Main Camp area. Located about a 20-minute drive from Dete is the Mambanje community which is a remote village comprising of just over 150 homesteads. This rural community faces challenges which include a lack of running water, and no access to electricity, network and poor road infrastructure.

The Mambanje Primary School has been one of the African Bush Camps Foundation’s passion projects for almost two decades. Only 2 and a half hours drive away from our first camp Somalisa in the Hwange National Park, it has been an integral part of the growth, development and building up of our foundation over the years. This school is one of the foundation’s founding projects which helped shape the blueprint and vision to reach not only the communities near our camps but to venture into outlying, underdeveloped and underinvested communities to ensure that we are helping those who otherwise would not get assistance and support from other NGOs or safari camps nearby.

  • The school has approximately 150 learners from ECDA to grade 7 and 5 teachers.
  • The school had a pass rate of 18%, which dropped from the Pre-covid pass rate of between 30 and 50%
  • The school had a 13% dropout rate and is losing between 10 and 20 learners a year.
  • Approximately 20 new learners are joining the school each year.

As a foundation, we have been actively investing in the educational development of learners in Mambanje through investing in the school and supporting the community at large with our community garden and intervention programs to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the area.

Where ABCF Began at Mambanje

  • Installing borehole and solar power
  • Installing network and a computer lab
  • Starting a nutrition program
  • Building teacher’s accommodation

The Devastating Effects of COVID-19

The school rapidly deteriorated in 2019 when the Covid pandemic locked down schools and forced learners to learn online. Poor infrastructure maintenance and upkeep had a devastating impact on the school facilities with the classrooms falling apart, furniture getting damaged and the solar and borehole no longer functioning correctly.

An assessment done of the school identified the following challenges:

  • Teacher morale at the school is very low. The school is currently understaffed, the teachers are underpaid, overworked and not happy with the living and working conditions at the school.
  • Learners are not receiving enough focused and quality learning time at school as they are sharing classrooms and learning materials with other grades resulting in not enough focused attention and investment being provided to each grade.
  • Learners are coming to school hungry; many are travelling long distances to school on foot and are learning on an empty stomach.

Reviving Mambanje School: Progress made in 2022

In October we undertook the momentous task to renovate and restore the school to its former glory. Creating an environment at our schools that is conducive to learning is a critical building block towards the educational development of learners.


We saw it fit to offer the 150 learners in Mambanje a school that they can be proud of, that they are motivated and excited to go to and that they can see and feel to be adding value to their lives and building their future.

We aim to address the challenges identified at Mambanje School in three phases:

Phase 1

  • Improving school facilities: Fixing solar, and boreholes, reviving the school garden and the orchard, fixing windows and desks, furnishing the school (desks and chairs for the learners) with additional computer equipment, restoring the network connection at the school.
  • Improving teacher accommodation: fixing doors and windows, getting water and electricity into the cottage.
  • Improving learner performance and attendance: reviving the feeding scheme, learning materials books and textbooks.

Phase 2:

  • Teachers: Improving morale (knock-on effect from addressing phase 1)
  • Teachers: support and develop existing and new teachers at and for the school
  • Teacher salaries
  • Learners: Focused and quality learning and education (increasing resourcing at the school)

Phase 3:

Supplementary programs: Initiatives and programs to support and assist the school to be more self-sustaining

Over the past few months, we have made significant progress on our phase 1 plan by making much-needed repairs to the roof, classroom walls and floors increasing the quality and safety at the school as well as buying desks, chairs, textbooks and stationery for the learners and classrooms.

Total spending for 2022: $47,000

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Renovation plans for 2023

Our plans for 2023, are to complete the repairs and maintenance that will be done at the school including fixing the borehole and solar, the computer lab and network connectivity. We will renovate the teacher’s accommodation to ensure that teachers are happy living and working at the school and that we can retain the teachers currently working there and have more capacity to house more teachers at the school.

Total projected costs for 2023: $73,700

The ongoing improvements, coupled with reviving the feeding scheme have brought fresh energy back into the school that we haven’t seen in years.

You can partner with us to revive Mambanje Primary School by donating towards our planned renovations for 2023.

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