Primary education is free in Malawi. Secondary education is not and fees vary according to the type of school. 40-65% of children complete primary school. Only about 20% win places in secondary schools and many drop out, often due to the fees or the need to provide for the family.
Many schools teach under trees or in mud huts that tend to get damaged or destroyed in the rainy season. Most secondary education is through Community Day Secondary Schools, for which the government pays teachers’ salaries but does not provide buildings or resources.
Our projects support primary and secondary school education by funding buildings, providing support for students who would not otherwise be able to afford school fees, school uniforms, books, or pens, and by training teachers additional to those provided by the Malawi government.
Beyond school education, training in agricultural and construction skills are hard to access and have been identified as a high priority by the President of the Economics Association of Malawi. We are investing in training young people in a variety of vocational skills.
We have funded 12 brick-built classrooms in five rural primary schools. Our classrooms in Usisya, built in partnership with Temwa, opened in 2008. Our classrooms in Wozi in Nkhota-Kota district opened in 2009. We have funded the construction of two more in Kainsa village in 2014, two in Kasakanya village in 2015, and opened four in Kochilira village in 2016.
We have also funded two classrooms, a science lab, a computer lab, one teacher’s house, and a hostel for female students at a remote Community Day Secondary School in Kochilira village.
In all of these projects, the local community contributed by making the bricks themselves and providing labour.
In partnership with the charity Temwa, we have provided a school support scheme in Usisya district since 2008. We provide financial support for 24 students at a time through their secondary education. The local community selects recipients on the basis of academic merit from candidates who could not otherwise afford to attend secondary school.
Since 2007 we have been working with Tikondane, a small project which provides meals, counselling, and support to children who are homeless or vulnerable to abuse in Lilongwe. As part of this project we fund places at state boarding schools for children who have been living on the streets and cannot return to their village or are considered to be at serious risk of harm in their own communities. We currently support up to 44 students in school or tertiary education. Almost all the children we have supported do well and progress to the next year or successfully complete their school leaving certificate and so far two of them have won fully-funded places at University.
We are committed to providing this support through both Temwa and Tikondane until at least 2021.
School Teacher Training
We have provided funding for a teacher-training scheme in Usisya, Northern Malawi. A fixed number of trainee teachers receive Malawian government funding each year, but there are more eligible candidates than funded places available. The trainees we funded met the qualification requirements for the course and increased the number of qualified teachers in the region.
Our funding covered the training of two primary school teachers who were selected by the local community in partnership with Temwa. Training takes two years and we covered fees and maintenance for that duration. The students received the funding on condition that they committed to teach in schools in Usisya for five years after qualification.
Vocational Skills Training
In 2013 we started working with Centre for Youth Development and Social Empowerment (“CYDSE”) to train unemployed young men and women in carpentry skills to City and Guilds level. CYDSE had previously trained 42 carpenters, all of whom had found paid employment as carpenters or in training others as part of the programme. Our first cohort of 24 carpenters, including three women, qualified in early 2014.
In 2016 we funded the construction of a Vocational Skills Training Centre to operate in conjunction with the Tidzuke Orphan Care Building we built in 2011. This will provide a training venue for unemployed school leavers in carpentry, welding, tailoring and tin-smithing. We are currently funding a tailoring course for 16 school-leavers within the Training Centre.