“Before I was sponsored by Determined to Develop, I had no hope that I would continue with my education. Both of my parents had passed away many years ago and my grandmother had no money. Now I have hope that I can develop myself and my country through my education.” – Alinafe (pictured above)
Within the cornerstone of Education and Youth Support, one of Determined to Develop’s key projects is support for youth to attend school and further their education. This is because it is one of the most evident needs in the community, and the request we hear most often from families and young people. While primary school is free in Malawi, secondary school (high school in the US) is not. School fees are often unaffordable, and in the cases where a family is able to pay the fees, they may not be able to afford the associated costs of items such as pencils, notepads, uniform, and exam fees. With the cost of school being a large burden on a family’s income, often parents will only be able to send one child to secondary school (and boys are usually prioritized). In many cases, young Malawians never have the opportunity to experience secondary education.
Determined to Develop currently funds 368 students in high school (37% girls) and has put 466 students through school since inception by linking students with sponsors.
NON FORMAL EDUCATION
Determined to Develop’s Youth Sponsorship program is complemented by our non-formal education initiatives, which focus on youth issues and the development of soft skills. This includes tutoring for sponsored students and workshops held during school holidays.
Currently our largest non-formal education initiative is the Female Youth Empowerment Program (FYEP), which targets young females at local primary and secondary schools, in an attempt to tackle the inequality in access to education between males and females.
In addition to the universal barriers faced by both genders in Malawi; females often face further difficulties accessing education with figures from the World Bank showing that only 27% of Malawian girls enroll in secondary school. Often male children are prioritized to attend school, particularly if not every child in the family can afford to be educated. Even for those girls who do attend secondary school, the dropout rate is higher than that of male students because of additional pressures such as early marriage and pregnancy. The United Nations states that over half of girls in Malawi are married by the age of 18.
FYEP aims to address this issue within Chilumba by providing a safe and open place for girls to come together and discuss their experiences, ask questions and provide peer-support for one another. This is achieved through two girls group; one of which is held for sponsored girls in secondary school and another which is held for girls aged 10-14 attending the two local primary schools.
As Determined to Develop is based in a rural village, we see it as our responsibility to support our neighbors, local schools and local youth. Determined to Develop currently supports four local nursery schools, including provision of resources; support for management committees; administrative guidance and support; feeding programs and infrastructure. Each nursery is run by members of the local community and each has a committee in place, which meet regularly with Determined to Develop. The aim is to prepare children better for the transition into primary schools. The Human Development Network (World Bank, 2013) has proven that children who attend nursery school are more likely to enroll in primary school, and so are their siblings.
Determined to Develop has completed the construction of two new double classroom blocks at Sangilo Nursery School and at Phulano Nursery, used respectively by over 150 and 80 nursery school children each day. In the future we hope to build nurseries at Tiyezge and Luvilimbo – the other two nursery schools that we currently support.
PRIMARY & SECONDARY SCHOOLS
As well as supporting our local nursery schools, we provide support to the local primary schools and our local secondary school, Khwawa Community Day Secondary School (CDSS), which many of our sponsored students attend. Support at the primary schools is through activities such as feeding programs, provision of materials, and infrastructure projects.
We provide ongoing support to Khwaha CDSS, and have completed such projects as building a school block of two classrooms, donating several school supplies including lab equipment, educational books, and file cabinets. We recently also secured the installation and connection of electricity to Khwawa school campus and staff houses. With the addition of electricity the school is now open to the possibilities of using computers, printers, setting up proper science lab equipment and improving the girl’s hostel. A simple addition such as electricity will also improve the security of the school, providing outside lights throughout the campus
WASAMBO HIGH SCHOOL
Determined to Develop is engaging in its first major independent construction project of a new high school in Malawi. In the summer of 2013 a research team undertook an education needs assessment study and a feasibility study for a high school in the Chilumba area.
From this needs assessment, we have aspired to build a world class high school which will have national reach and be accessible to the most marginalized children.
Wasambo High School will be based on a model of extended learning that will incorporate the components of the Malawi Education Syllabus with International Standards that raise the bar for learning in Malawi.
The High School will emphasize academics as well as student life incorporating a program which educates the whole person emphasizing mind, thought, integrity and character.
Determined to Develop will partner with a leading United States University and the Ministry of Education in Malawi and shall staff the school with half Malawi and half US Volunteer (trained) teachers. Through this partnership, Malawian teachers will also attend courses offered through the US Institution and shall earn credit toward a higher degree. These teachers will be cycled out into the general Malawi education structure upon completion in order to take their skills to other schools within the Ministry.
Wasambo High School shall have a social justice focus and will be accessible to all levels of the population. Scholarships and bursaries shall be available in different categories for those less well able. As a special note, a percentage of each year’s intake shall be allocated to the brightest students from within the school’s catchment area and these students shall be admitted with no regard to fees.