Improving primary school education in Malawi
“My message to all teachers on World Teachers Day is, keep up the hard work as the fruits you bear is noticeable,” – Gelard Kalima, Treasurer of a Parent Teachers Association at Nasonjo primary school in Malawi.
Quality Education; Sustainable Development Goal 4, is one of the 17 global goals adopted by United Nations member states in a quest to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030 according to the United Nations Development Program.
Education in the context of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III is one of the key areas as sustainable development of the country hinges upon participation of all people by devoting their energy and skills to various available opportunities.
In Malawi, the literacy rate is estimated at 65.75 percent according to the 2016 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, which calls for the improvement of quality and relevance of primary education according to MGDS III.
DAPP Malawi joined the Government of Malawi’s efforts in promotion of primary education. In coordination with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), a Memorandum of understanding was signed by both parties to train teachers for Malawi primary schools.
Training teachers in private Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) is one way of reducing the teacher to pupil ratio in schools to ensure effective learning. Targeting to achieve a 1 to 60 teacher to pupil ratio. The average teacher to pupil ratio in public primary schools was recorded at 1 to 75 by 2018 according to MoEST.
DAPP Malawi has since 2003 been implementing a teacher training programme as one way of complementing the Malawi government’s efforts in reduction of teacher to pupil ratio in public primary schools.
With TTCs in four of the six education divisions in Malawi, DAPP Malawi has to date trained 2,640 teachers in its four colleges of Chilangoma in Blantyre, Amalika in Thyolo, Dowa in Dowa and Mzimba in Mzimba district.
A member and co-founder of the Federation Humana People to People, DAPP Malawi employs a Humana People to People designed model to train young teachers specifically for the rural areas. The training prepares the student teachers as agents of change in the communities where they will teach.
The programme has thus provided rural children with qualified and trained teachers who are working professionally in challenging local environments as well as spearheading and supporting community development activities around their respective schools.
The Coordinating Primary Education Advisor (CPEA) for Thyolo district, Mr Kenneth Luke Dumbula, said they work with DAPP Teacher Training College Amalika in training teachers for primary schools in the district. He said, “DAPP Teacher Training College Amalika is a key asset for Thyolo district as it provides trained primary school teachers. Thyolo district do not encounter problems with DAPP Malawi trained teachers as they come prepared to teach in the rural communities as it is one of the components within their training – reaching out to all different communities.”
Through the programme, teachers energetically follow the conviction that all primary school pupils have the potential to become skilful and productive members of society.
Expected to work in rural Malawi settings where teaching and learning resources are not readily available, teachers trained under DAPP Malawi are prepared to produce teaching and learning materials from locally available resources.
The head teacher for Nasonjo primary school, located in Mupombe village under Traditional Authority of Chief Kapeni, Blantyre district has his school benefitting from working with a former DAPP Malawi teacher training college graduates. The school headmaster, Mr Lawrance Thokozani Musaline, concurs on how DAPP Malawi trained teachers are dedicated in ensuring availability of teaching and learning materials.
“The teachers trained by DAPP Malawi have brought a positive impact to our school. Henry Ng’ombe a teacher from DAPP Malawi who is teaching at Nansonjo primary school is the chairperson of the school sanitation committee and his efforts has improved the school sanitation a lot,” said the headmaster.1
Throughout the training, student teachers are challenged to demand responsibility and contribution from each individual for children to learn. Community mobilisation to participate in school development and management activities is one way through which parents get involved in their children’s education.
Elizabeth Namamba, Chairperson for the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) at Nasonjo primary school said there is a good coordination between the school and community. She said this is one of the reasons learners from Nasonjo primary school are excelling in national examinations since parents are now actively involved in their children’s education.
Henry Ng’ombe echoed the PTA Chairperson, “In my teaching, I use the TRIO (children working in threes) method to effectively deliver child-centered learning, and engaging each child into active participation in the learning process. The visual learning materials displayed in my classroom has various subject assignments for each TRIO to work on,” said Henry Ng’ombe.
DAPP Malawi has for over the past 15 years been training teachers for rural Malawi schools, to ensure continued learning, a network of graduated teachers was established in 2012. The teachers voluntarily stick together to share knowledge and skills on how they can improve the quality of education at primary schools.