Traveling long distances to and from schools is a major barrier to education in Zimbabwe, especially for female students. Such was the case for 17-year-old Langelihle Ncube of Tombo Village of Insiza district.
Langelihle, a form four student at Tshazi Secondary School, is an orphan who lives with her grandmother and three siblings. She would need to wake at 3 am each day to do household chores like sweeping and washing dishes before leaving for school. Langelihle lives 18km (11 miles) from her school, the only secondary school in the area, and it would take four hours of walking for her to reach the school, a daily roundtrip of 36km (22 miles) and eight hours on the road.
“I used to come to school at most twice per week because I had to travel so far. I would leave home just after 4 am and most of the time I arrived late and very tired. School starts at 7:15 am and at times I arrived after 8 am and would miss the first lessons. This affected me a lot. I used to hate school because of this,” says Langelihle.
Her class teacher, Mr. Zithelo Mlilo, said Langelighle’s performance at school was dismal because she missed a lot of school days or she would arrive late. She was also often very tired and would struggle to concentrate in class.
In 2017, as part of the IGATE-T project, Tshazi Secondary School received 197 Buffalo Bicycles from World Bicycle Relief. Langelihle was chosen as a beneficiary and was also selected to be a member of the Bicycle Supervisory Committee (BSC).
“Since receiving the bicycle, I now enjoy coming to school and I attend every day. I now travel for 1 hour and 20 minutes and I am among the first students to arrive at school,” she says.
Mr. Mlilo says he has noticed a big difference and that Langelihle is punctual every day. Because she arrives early, she now has time to do extra studies and complete her assignments before school starts. He also mentioned that her participation in class in all subjects has increased ever since she received the bicycle.