IMPROVING ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION
Challenge: Lack of access to quality secondary education
With only 18% of primary school leavers in the Chilumba area being selected for secondary school (2016), an overwhelming number of stakeholders in the community identified the need for higher quality schools with more resources. Education needs in the area are twofold, as both access to and the quality of secondary education needs improvement.
Findings: Schroeder, J (2016) Securing Quality Secondary Education: Issues of Accessibility and Equity in Northern Malawi
Researchers conducted a survey and analysis to assess the status of secondary education in Malawi and the key variables which influence successes and failures of secondary schools in northern Malawi. Data on school enrollment, exam pass rates, school drop outs and secondary school selection rates were collected during interviews and meetings with senior teachers at secondary schools in the Karonga district and northern division of Mzuzu. Interviews provided an insight into institutional practices while campus tours enabled a qualitative analysis of infrastructure and educational environment to be conducted. Although 64.8% of primary school students in the Chilumba area passed examinations, only 25% of those students were selected to go to government secondary schools. Of those, 94% were selected to go to a Community Day Secondary School (CDSS). However, boarding schools were considered to create a more conducive learning environment with better education growth and character development than open-setting secondary schools. CDSS headmasters agreed that they would prefer investment in on-campus boarding, infrastructure, more textbooks, and well qualified teachers. For building a new school in the area, the study recommends that this should be a boarding school with the capacity to offer student services including counseling, study support and medical care. A set daily schedule with study time and extracurricular activities should also be implemented, with lessons in line with the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. Male and female students should be allowed to interact with each other outside of the classroom when they attend single-sex schools.
Findings: Fackel-Darrow, C (2017) Integrated Curricular Learning in Developing Countries: What are the Techniques for the Application of Enrichment Topics Added to a General Curriculum to Develop a Well-Rounded Adult?
Student interviews, school observations and textbook and syllabi analysis for key topics and teaching strategies were undertaken to develop a weekly, after school and weekend schedule and activities, and an informal curriculum plan and lessons for form 1 students starting at the school in September 2017. The goal of this informal curriculum developed at Wasambo High School is to provide students with enrichment activities that promote development in a wholesome way and to facilitate the building of social, health, and economic assets in a safe and fun learning environment. Topics involve the more basic “life skills” curriculum most Malawian students take in secondary school, but are expanded with active and extended learning activities, as well as lessons in business studies and computer studies derived from the traditional Malawian syllabi and other resources.
Research methodology included student interviews and school observations, and analyzing textbooks and syllabi for key topics and teaching strategies. The culmination of this project was developing a weekly, after school, and weekend schedule and activities, and an informal curriculum plan and lessons for the form 1 students beginning September, 2017.
Solution: Establishment of Wasambo Boys Boarding High School
In September 2017, D2D opened Wasambo Boys High School to meet the demand for education space, with the ability to host 320 boarding students at full capacity. Available scholarships allow high achievers from the local area to continue with education regardless of financial circumstances, furthering opportunities for those less able to access secondary education. In addition, the school aims to raise education standards by infusing a model of student-centered learning into the syllabus. A mixed expatriate and Malawian staff brings a contemporary pedagogy of international standards to the table.
Please visit wasambo.org for more information and recent updates on Wasambo Boys High School
DEVELOPING NURSERY EDUCATION
Challenge: Lack of quality nursery education in the area
Despite recognition in Malawi that nursery education is beneficial to childhood development, this aspect of education in the country is given little to no support. Nursery school curriculums exist, but are underutilized. Nursery schools teachers have usually not received training, and lack monetary support.
Findings: Rodriguez, C (2016) The Impacts and Benefits of Nursery School Education in the Chilumba Catchment Region of Malawi
Educational scores from 992 primary school students in standards 1-3 were collected from Hara and Sangilo primary schools in the Chilumba area of Karonga District and analyzed through SPSS software. In conjunction, face-to-face fixed-response interviews were conducted with eight nursery school teachers and one local chief, focusing on the benefits and drawbacks of nursery school education, as well as nursery school observations and 100 student evaluations. Student evaluations established a baseline of knowledge held by pupils within nursery school as well as a comparison between those in and out of nursery school, and between boys and girls. Meanwhile, observations created a picture of teaching methods and learning environment. Mean scores from standard 1 classes indicated that scores from pupils who had attended D2D nurseries were lower than their counterparts who had attended other nurseries or no nurseries at all. Conversely, standard 3 pupils from D2D supported nurseries achieved the highest mean scores. Results may be attributable to differing teaching styles between nursery and primary schools, where D2D pupils had taken longer to adapt to primary school but in the long term did better. Pupils having attended the more highly resourced nursery were also on the whole higher achievers. Overall the research suggests that nursery school education had a positive impact on primary education. Due to certain limitations the study recommends that better organized school records should be kept with spot-checks and penalties on schools with incomplete records, which would improve monitoring. Nursery schools supported by D2D could be improved through teacher training and the creation of a structured curriculum to help prepare pupils for primary school.
Solution: Development of a nursery school curriculum
Addressing the need for more access to nursery education, D2D established 4 nursery schools in the local area. Establishment included building of the school structures, training of the teachers, provision of materials, and development of a nursery school curriculum, which is now being implemented at all of D2D’s partnering nursery schools.
The three-term curriculum targets Malawian children, ages 3 to 4. Lessons focus on physical well-being as well as motor, cognitive, language, literacy, social, and emotional development. Focus was placed on including culturally relevant and appropriate strategies, topics, and best learning practices. In order to do so, standards from the U.S. Department of Education, Ohio State, and Malawi were referenced.
IMPROVING EDUCATION THROUGH COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
Challenge: Failing Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), and the negative impact on education
The decentralized governmental system in Malawi provides opportunities for the public to actively engage in making changes to their community. This gives Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) the potential to have a significant impact on schools and education. But while parents can influence the success of a child’s education, they can by the same measure influence its failure. The challenge faced is understanding how PTAs operate in the Karonga south region to ensure their success so education may flourish with its community inputs.
Findings: Stadler, R.M (2015) PTAs and the Development of Primary and Secondary Schools in Malawi
The study examines the impact that parent teacher associations (PTAs) have on the infrastructural and material development of primary and secondary schools in the Karonga South Region of Malawi and the northern city of Mzuzu. Semi-structured interviews were conducted over eight weeks with three PEAs (Primary Education Advisers) and a district council member to understand PTA structures and funding. Seventeen head teachers, 16 heads of PTAs and 29 parents of schoolchildren were also interviewed in this timeframe to establish successes and failures of PTAs. Interviewees were also asked to identify school issues following which quantitative analysis revealed that girls’ education, feeding programs, child labor, access, funding and training for PTAs were the most prevalent. The study concludes that funding and training is key to the success of PTAs and therefore recommends that this consideration should be made by government and NGOs attempting to develop schools and education, on the basis that parents, teachers and the wider community directly influence the educational outcome of school-aged children. The delivery of sustainable feeding programs, support groups, extracurricular activities and hostels, particularly for girls, are also recommended as ways to improve school retention.
Solution: Organizational Participation in PTA
While D2D does not currently run a specific PTA orientated program, a D2D representative attends all PTA meetings at Khwawa and Thunduti Community Day Secondary Schools to offer support and engage them in discussions concerning youth development, education, and girl’s empowerment.