By Lauren Hosie
Kingfisher Lake International Children’s College (KLICC) is nestled in coastal rural Mozambique, between Inhambane City and Tofo Beach
Offering preschool and primary school, KLICC aims to “instil conscious living through quality education”, inspiring its learners to engage with the natural environment and become ambassadors for the earth. The school utilises the British National Curriculum1 to form a strong academic foundation, yet we remain dynamic in our academic approach, using the environment where possible to frame our lessons. The school implements its own conservation subject, called “Green T”, which stands for green technology. It fits into the weekly programme and includes topics such as recycling, biomimicry,2 birding, and general nature appreciation and basic bush skills. The classes are run by an experienced game ranger, who is also responsible for Bush Cats, KLICC’s very own version of Scouts/Brownies. A compost heap is well on the way to support our new veggie garden. We also intend to get a small number of chickens and ducks to teach the children about responsibility and small-scale subsistence farming..
Bounty and beauty
The school is situated on a grassy hillside, overlooking a freshwater lake. It is difficult not to be awed by nature’s beauty. The location was also chosen as it is a central point between the city of Inhambane and the beach towns of Barra and Tofo. It is a beautiful and safe learning environment and children are encouraged to climb trees, play on the jungle gyms, climb walls and slide down the slide. We choose not to focus on information technology, although we do use laptops as the need arises (for research or creating tables, graphs, posters, etc.).
If you build it, they will come
KLICC was started by a small team of passion-driven people, who saw the need for a quality, independent, English-medium school in the area, and somehow managed to create a beautiful and unique learning space for children in a very short space of time. A small amount of funding was sourced initially – not even enough to purchase land and build the servitude, never mind getting access to water and electricity. Like all things that are “meant to be”, however, we were able to get more money as it was needed, just in time, to get the show on the road. Once we got the building licence, there were only four months left to build the school – a nail-biting time, but we were able to pull it off. Upon opening (on 20 January 2014), we had a stunning preschool (Montessori), and a large classroom and two smaller ones inside the school’s administration building. Now we have another classroom, a sports field and a (nearly completed) tennis court.
I am also one of those original team members. After completing my tertiary education in Western Australia, I completed a teaching degree at the University of KwaZulu- Natal, then taught for about four years at the Waterbury Academy.
I then moved to Mozambique to embark on this project, and I am now the head of the school and also teach a combined Grade 3/4 class. It has been a wonderfully enriching experience, providing me with an opportunity to learn on a daily basis about how to teach in an ever-evolving school in the making. I have always wanted to teach – running a school is just a dream come true.
A multicultural paradise
KLICC is surrounded by rural villages – the area is called Machavenga – and the school seeks to employ people from the immediate community wherever possible. The security guards and gardeners are from the local area; additional cleaning staff will be recruited here; and we use local carpenters, electricians and plumbers. Every year, one Machavenga child is offered a place at KLICC – free of charge – where they may remain with us until the end of Grade 7. The school absorbs the cost of supporting these children.
The teaching cohort at the school comprises an incredible team of passionate people who embrace the challenges of living and working in Mozambique. Teachers here are creative and resourceful, and are all absolutely “for the children”. We have three South African teachers teaching the lower primary grades and an American teaching the senior class (combined grades 5–7). We have a delightful student demographic – children come from a multitude of backgrounds: German, South African, Mozambican, Finnish, American, Sudanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian, British, Korean… the list goes on.
A technology-free zone
The school aims to offer its children a stress-free childhood – they are often barefoot and much focus is on the outdoors. Electronic gadgets are not allowed at school. Children of all ages play together climbing trees, picking wild fruits and playing on the jungle gyms. More and more research is showing that children are not benefiting from a saturation of technology3 and that more emphasis should be placed on “being a kid”. Furthermore, I believe that pristine, “mollycoddling” environments result in children with weak core strength and no exposure to dirt or risks.4 Children at KLICC are exposed to the usual dangers of childhood play, including plants and animals found in the surrounding bush. Pupils are taught to deal with these issues, rather than being completely isolated from them. For this reason, many kids at the school are passionate birders and nature lovers – most of them know which fruits and plants can be eaten or used for other purposes.
Although it’s not a financially beneficial place to work, the staff enjoy living in the Inhambane paradise that is coastal Mozambique. For some it is simply the quiet and simple environment, while for others it is access to waves (surfing), diving, snorkelling and the like. Also, since the school is still quite small, hours are kept to a reasonable minimum where possible, so that staff can enjoy the afternoon and still have time to fit in lesson preparation. Certainly not for everyone – but a dream move for some.
Being an independent school gives us the freedom to make choices that are beneficial to the children, without being stuck in a rigid regime. The world is constantly changing, so we believe we need to remain dynamic in our approach to education to help our children thrive as adults – being in independent school enables us to do just this.
Simplicity and sunshine
It is an absolute privilege to be a part of creating this beautiful school, knowing the positive impact it will have on the community’s children and knowing that we are making every effort to nurture mindful young citizens who are respectful of each other, and the Earth. In a world where children are becoming mini-adults at a tender age, and are absorbed in iPads, selfies and cellphones, we are taking a step back, taking a deep breath and savouring the childhoods of our pupils by immersing them in simplicity, nature and sunshine, developing a good work ethic along the way.
1. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum.
2. See, for example: https://biomimicry.org/what-isbiomimicry/?gclid=CJL60JnE480CFUlmGwodpMUN5w.
3. See, for example: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/03/health/teens-tweensmedia-screen-use-report/.
4. See, for example: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gamechangers-stop-mollycoddlingchildren-well-have-more-fiery-caitlin-moran-type-adults-1499089.
Category: Spring 2016