Young people and staff from Holyrood Secondary alone have, since 2008 during their trips to Malawi, built and refurbished classrooms at Catholic Institute Primary School and put in a well. They have built classrooms for children with additional support needs at Zingwangwa Primary in Blantyre. An additional eight classrooms at Zingwangwa have been refurbished and electricity provided for parts of the school, a real bonus for pupils and staff.
During their trips in June 2011 and June 2012, Holyrood pupils not only used their building and painting skills but also took part in school lessons and helped to teach youngsters basic literacy and numeracy skills as well as helping with children with additional support needs.
Building on these solid foundations, Malawi Leaders of Learning is a long term project that will tie in with Malawi’s education priorities and the framework already set-up and operated by Link Community Development’s work in the country. We have achieved our first target which was to have a co-ordinator – Justin Kamwendo, who already works for South West Education Department.
Justin and Sister Eunice, South West Education Department’s Divisional Manager, helped us choose the first four schools – Nyambadwe Primary School, Namwiyo Primary School, Chitsime Primary School and Blantyre Secondary School. In June 2012, our first ten Malawi Leaders of Learning spent five weeks working in these schools.
Their focus was to improve the quality of learning and teaching through sharing practice and encouraging different approaches to learning and teaching – not an easy task when classes have more than 100 children and in some cases, closer to 200.
The visit was a resounding success with all participants coming back to Scotland tired, challenged but exhilarated by the ‘life-changing experience’.
Our next target is to bring teachers from Malawi to Scotland to build on the work that the first group of MLOLs have achieved. A team of six, including Justin and representatives from each of the participating schools will come to Glasgow in October/November.
The evaluations from the first group show that we will over time make a difference to the quality of education being delivered to children in Malawi and in so doing will improve their life chances.