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 Programme.
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 teacher for Malawi primary schools. Training teachers in private Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) is one way reducing the teacher pupil ratio in schools to ensure effective learning. Targeting to achieve a 1 to 60 teacher to pupil ratio, the average 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 program as one way of complementing the Malawi government’s efforts in reduction of teacher pupil ratio in public primary schools. With TTCs in four of the six education divisions in Malawi, DAPP has to date trained 2,640 teachers for rural primary schools in its four colleges of Chilagoma 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 runs a Humana People to People teacher training model in training young teachers specifically for the rural primary schools. The training prepares the student teachers as agents of change in the communities where they are going to teach. The program 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. “DAPP Amalika TTC is an asset to Thyolo district providing trained primary school teachers, and we also have other graduated teachers from the other three DAPP colleges who are posted to work within the 16 education zones of Thyolo district. We do not have problems working with teachers from DAPP Malawi TTCs as they are prepared to teach in the rural communities which is one of their training component,” he explained.
Through the program, 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 are prepared to be able to produce teaching and learning from locally available resources.
The head teacher for Nasonjo primary school, located in Mupombe village under Traditional Authority of Chief Kapeni, Blantyre district have his school benefitting from working with a former DAPP Malawi Teacher Training college graduate. The school headmaster, Mr Lawrance Thokozani Musaline, concurs on how DAPP Malawi trained teachers are dedicated in ensuring availability of teaching and learning materials.
“Teachers trained by DAPP Malawi have brought a positive impact to our school, they are dedicated and equipped with skills on how to improve the school environments which they acquired from their training institutions. For example, Henry Ng’ombe is a teacher from DAPP Malawi who is teaching at Nansonjo primary school, he is the chairperson of the school sanitation committee. We have noticed that sanitation, health and hygiene at this school have improved,” said the headmaster.
Through-out 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 of the ways 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 school are shinning in national examinations since parents are now actively involved in their children’s education.
Henry Ng’ombe, DAPP graduated teacher at Nasonjo school echoed the PTA Chairperson, “in my teaching, I use the trio (children working in a group of three) 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 all at the disposal of each TRIO to work on and increase knowledge,” said Henry Ng’ombe.”
DAPP Malawi has for over 15 years been training teachers for rural Malawi primary schools. A network of DAPP graduated teachers was established in 2012 to ensure continued learning. The teachers voluntarily stick together to share knowledge and skills on how they can improve the environment around their schools.