Malawi achieved independence from the British in 1964. and is one of Africa’s most densely populated countries with a population approaching 18 million. More than half of the population lives on less than $1 a day, and over 85 percent depend on subsistence agriculture. Tobacco, tea, and sugar are the most important exports. Although Malawi has almost reached universal primary education with 97% of children starting primary school only three quarters of them make the transition to secondary education. The average teacher pupil ratio is one to 75 at primary level.
Primary and Secondary Education
In 2001 we visited Chamalaza Primary School which consisted of two straw classrooms but many enthusiastic pupils. Gradually we provided purpose built classroom blocks for all eight year groups.
Over the years we have we have helped to build over 21 classrooms at primary schools in the Kasungu District of Malawi. These are built in partnership with the local villagers who provide the home-made bricks, collect the river sand and provide some of the unskilled labour. On our part we finance the rest of the materials (wood, nails, corrugated roofing, paint etc.) and the provision of skilled labour in the form of bricklayers, carpenters and decorators.
With extra classrooms the school can apply for extra teachers and increase the number of pupils from the local area. This often results in more girls getting the opportunity to have a formal education.
Twice each year we send out a container with educational materials, sports equipment and books for distribution to the primary and secondary schools up and down the country. In 2016 we donated educational items to seven primary schools, six secondary schools, a school for the blind, the University of Malawi and a medical college.
Provision of Libraries
As well as classrooms we have built five libraries at the primary schools which we keep well stocked with books. We insist that the pupils have regular access to the library and are able to take books home. The Malawi government have just introduced a reading period into the national curriculum which fits perfectly with the provision of library facilities.
A limited number of bursaries have been awarded to severely disadvantaged children. Six attend Chisapi Primary School, a private boarding establishment south of Blantyre. Recently a sponsored orphan has just completed tertiary training as a nurse.