Zomba, Malawi … It is summer and October is the hottest month. Walking through hot sand, over rocks and burning dust, pupils go to school with their feet nearly baked from the hot sun. Many pupils walk back and forth to school each day barefoot. One cannot imagine how terrible this is, but for many school children it is normal, and life goes on.
But some have received new shoes with support from the Malawi Project and its partners. The shoes are distributed through a “Shoes for Grades” program aimed at motivating primary school pupils to work hard and achieve better grades. Pupils who performed well were awarded a new pair of shoes.
Schools have a long, long list of challenges, including the shortage of classrooms, desks, and writing materials. At Havala Primary School, east of Zomba Town, pupils are packed into a grass made classroom. They sit in the dust. The school has only a handful of teachers. A check of the students revealed just 1 out of 100 own a pair of shoes. These pupils have few role models to propel their desire to hard work. If anything, their role models are the teachers they see each day in the unimpressive grass classrooms.
Mwaiwawo Mangwere is in Standard (Grade) 3 and comes from Mwambo in Zomba District. He is one of the lucky kids today. He received a pair of shoes as a result of his good performance, and hard work. He dreams of becoming an accountant and works tirelessly so he can reach his goal. The “Shoes for Grades” program offers a high degree of motivation to children like Mwaiwawo. During this ceremony a total of 836 pupils from five primary Schools benefited.
In remarks after the shoes were distributed, the head teacher for Chinkhwangwa Primary School, Mr. Steven Lijambe thanked the Malawi Project for the initiative that would lead to long lasting results in the area. He further urged pupils (students) to work hard, and cultivate a giving heart as has just been seen from the Malawi Project.
Shoes were also distributed to Nankhuni, Muhasuwa, and Havala schools.
Tungamo Thomson from Muhasuwa Junior Primary School noted he never dreamed of having a pair of shoes. “I will work much harder so that I can continue doing better”. He dreams of becoming a police officer, and he is determined to achieve this dream.
The head teacher urged students to work hard in school, and cultivate the heart of giving to others, just as others are giving to them. The program is, without a doubt, addressing the issue of hard work in class, and also cultivating a heart for sharing with others.