Fackson grew up in a poor district of Ndola called Chifubu Township. His parents are still alive but are very elderly and not working, being supported by their children. Fackson was working as a casual labourer to bring in whatever money he could to support his wife, three children, and his parents, but could see no future in that life.
In 2014 he applied to MfA. In interview he really shone, but he did poorly on his entrance exam – only just making the mark he needed to be invited to interview. During his first year it became obvious that he was gifted with practical engineering but struggling academically – when he saw a college lecturer struggling to wipe a teaching board clean, Fackson spent his evening making a board rubber out of scrap materials as a gift to the college. While it was clear that Fackson was not academically gifted, he kept up with his peers by simply working hard, and for every hour he could: when other students left for the day, Fackson would stay on into the evening to study in the college library, cycling the 8 miles home in the dark, and getting up early the next day to ensure he was first at college.
During his second year, Fackson was informally assessed at college and thought to have dylsexia and probably dyspraxia – and we also discovered that he was a natural left-hander who had been beaten by a teacher and forced to write right-handed because she thought left-handedness was evidence of witchcraft.
The college arranged for Zambia’s biggest mining company – FQM – to sponsor his assessment by an educational psychologist. She produced a report confirming that Fackson had a broad range of educational challenges, and in 2017, MFA applied to City & Guilds for special educational measures for Fackson, which were granted. In December of that year he sat his exams with additional time allowance and passed with merits – the first time in his life he had ever, in his words, been anything other than a poor average. At his graduation, he accepted his diploma with tears in his eyes, and now works as a heavy equipment mechanic at the mining company that sponsored his educational assessment.
One weekend every month he travels 8 hours back to Ndola to bring his pay packet home to his wife and children, and he calls in to the college to see his former teachers (now his friends) and thank them for changing his life (his words). Even now, having moved back to the UK, Jason gets the occasional text message from Fackson thanking MfA for how they helped him turn his life around. The ethos of MfA is to give “A hand up, not a hand out”. Fackson always worked hard, but was stuck in a pattern of doing casual labour that he could see no future in, and few ways out of. When his elder brother graduated from MfA in 2014 and got his first job, Fackson asked him for help with the fees and that set him on the road to success.