Tererai Trent Inspires Schoolchildren at Matau Primary School on Visit Home

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Tererai Trent warmly greets some of the preschool children at the Matau Primary School on October 11, 2011. (Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi for Save the Children)
Save the Children to Improve Learning, Construct Safe School Environment for Matau Children

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(Zimbabwe) Sophie Hamandishe +263.714.252517
(U.S.) Eileen Burke 203.216.0718

WESTPORT, Conn. (October 13, 2011) – "Education is the pathway to progress and the gateway out of poverty," said Oprah’s all-time favorite guest, Tererai Trent, to schoolchildren, teachers and the community at the Matau Primary School in Zimbabwe this past week. Tererai returned on October 11 to the school, which she attended as a little girl, to deliver words of hope and encouragement on her visit home.

The Matau Primary School is part of a Save the Children project funded through The Oprah Winfrey Foundation to honor Tererai, whose story of tenacity, courage and spirit inspired Oprah and millions of fans around the world. The donation to the Matau Primary School project was announced on May 20, 2011, during one of the final "Oprah" show episodes.

"Through the generosity of The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, a light now beams brightly on Matau and our neighboring villages," said Tererai. "When people hear the word ’Matau,’ they do not see the shadows of poverty; they see the brightness of hope."

As part of the project, more than 4,000 preschoolers and school-age children from Matau and neighboring villages will be reached through Save the Children’s early learning programs and a community-wide literacy program.

Initial research, set to begin at the start of the school year in January 2012, will measure and identify gaps in children’s reading skills, as compared with their peers not enrolled in the program. This will allow Save the Children to chart improvements in children’s reading skills over the three-year literacy project.

Tererai noted the importance of distributing this research so that all students can benefit. "The Matau community and neighboring villages have been given an incredible opportunity, but this is really an opportunity for all of Zimbabwe. For what we will learn through this project can be shared with the Ministry of Education to help all schoolchildren," she said.

School Construction at Matau Primary School

In addition to improving learning for children, Save the Children will create a safe school environment for Matau Primary School students. With help from the community and local contractors, the organization will build new latrines, new teacher’s homes, new classrooms and a school administration building at the Matau Primary School. Already, the community has molded more than 450,000 bricks by hand to be used in the construction, and foundations are being laid.

Barring weather disruptions, Save the Children plans to complete the first phase of construction, including an administration building, two teacher’s homes, two latrine stalls, an early childhood development center, two new classrooms and a renovation of two classrooms by the end of 2012.

Tererai called on all Zimbabweans to work together to help stamp out illiteracy and promote learning among children in their communities. "By building our home of knowledge here, our children will stay here to become our teachers, doctors and leaders. And, in doing so, we will build a better future for our children and future generations." Visit savethechildren.org/Oprah to learn more.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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