Thondwe, Zomba, Malawi … “This is the second time in the past year you have helped the kids in this school. Earlier this year, we received textbooks. This is the first gift of its kind since the School opened in 1924”, noted the second deputy head teacher with excitement that could be easily read from her face.
Thondwe Full Primary School is one of thousands of Government Primary Schools with very high enrollment. Since the inception of free primary education the country has registered an increased number of pupils. Thondwe Primary School has 1,702 pupils from Standard 1 to standard 8. Unlike many pupils in urban centers, pupils in rural schools face difficult challenges. Lack of clothes, food, poor road network, and the lack of role models, adversely affects their efforts to get a good education. Add the fact most schools have limited teaching and learning materials like books, flip charts, pens, pencils and desks. The swelling number of pupils also leads to an acute shortage of classrooms and teachers.
Malawi Project and Namikango Mission Join
It is not surprising to find large numbers of temporary grass-made structures in many schools to accommodate additional pupils. During the rainy season, these pupils are soaked because the grass classrooms leak. This leads to a high dropout rate and low morale. To encourage them to remain in school, several interventions have been carried out. Textbooks have been distributed to thousands of students throughout the country, and currently sketcher shoes are being distributed to pupils who excel in the primary schools. This program has been warmly welcomed at the Thondwe Primary School. Pupils in all classes, based on their progress registered in term two test results, those who gained the most were awarded a pair of shoes. In each class, pupils from position 1 to 15 received a pair of shoes.
After giving the shoes, Ben Hayes, from the mission, promised to continue helping the school to perform better. “I wish to say this donation could not be possible without our partners, the Malawi Project, who contributed these shoes and the books we provided.”
According to the school mission statement, “Working together to achieve academic excellence and making our learners reliable citizens in society.” The school cannot achieve this alone. It needs teamwork. On behalf of the pupils, Isaac Nazombe, a standard 8 pupil expressed his appreciation for the shoes. He highlighted some of the challenges pupils face daily, including a lack of teaching and learning materials, clothes and shoes.
Not having shoes, and walking long distances, according to Mr. Gosten G. Makwinja, the head teacher, leads to the transmission of diseases. “For example, pupils use one pit latrine. If they do not have shoes on their feet they can easily get diseases.” He emphasized, “These shoes will bring hot competition amongst the pupils. Those who did not do well in the first term will work hard to be in a good position to be rewarded the next time, the way their friends have been rewarded today,” he said.
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