Mountainside Primary School opened in January 2015. Initially, we just wanted a school for the children at Oasis and we thought maybe if we could get about 50 outsiders, then the school fees they would pay, could pay our teachers. However, due to the quality of education at an affordable price and a great location, before we knew it our school had 200 pupils. We initially started with baby class to grade 5 with grade 6 being introduced the following year to accommodate the grade 5 pupils.
The school and the facilities have grown immensely and we now have over 500 pupils. Initially the school classrooms were set up in the empty chalets, but now the school has 16 classrooms.
The children are taught the Zambian curriculum, and the UK curriculum is given for homework so that the children can be stretched to achieve their potential. Phonics is also emphasised and we therefore have children learning to read at an early age.
Since 2017 we have had a grade 7 class whose pupils need to write final exams to get into secondary school. To date we have had 100% pass rate in these exams, with some children getting outstanding marks that compete with the best and most expensive private schools in Ndola. For the first time last year (2020) our grade 7 were able to write exams from Mountainside as we have been recognised as an examination centre (previously they wrote from a local government school). This has certainly put us on the map as the results are published and so if people hadn’t heard of Mountainside Primary before, they have now. Needless to say we had a high intake of new pupils in Jan 2021.
There are constant testimonies from parents who have seen such a rapid improvement in their child’s education. In fact, we never have to advertise the school any more as the parents advertise it for us.
School looks after itself and covers its own costs, including teachers’ salaries and water and electricity for the whole of Oasis Village. The school also sponsors all the primary school age pupils living at Oasis (currently 47 children) and provides them with uniforms and free school dinners.
In a school year we have some significant events which include celebrating World Book Day, Careers Day, Football tournaments at the nearby International School and Sports Day.
In the last football tournament, there were four schools taking part and Mountainside were the overall winners with U11 girls and boys coming first, U13 boys second and U13 girls third. The children love going for tournaments and also make us so proud with their performance and good conduct.
We have recently finished building a school library and new computer lab. We have also installed solar panels at Oasis as electricity is a problem in Zambia and everyday the electricity is switched off for a period of about 8 hours.
We are now focusing on the sports facilities, namely football pitch, basketball pitch, tennis, volleyball and netball.
The school started as a dream of 50 children and has grown at an exponential rate, both with the number of children and also the infrastructure. It is such a privilege to be a part of this school and to be such a blessing to the local community.