Christmas has come early for pupils at St Pius Primary School in Blantyre following an over MK8 million donation of assorted items from a local company C & S Investments.
The donation includes maintenance of walk ways around the school campus, rehabilitation of classrooms, 100 plastic chairs, twenty footballs, Desks and swivel chairs for both the Headmistress and her deputy and 600 ball pens for the pupils.
C & S Investments is owned by seasoned Insurer Chris Kapanga and Chartered Accountant Symon Itaye and it is into the fuel and hospitality industry.
Among other business interests, the company runs the Zingwangwa filling station which is located at Kudya near St Pius Primary School where the donation was made.
Kapanga told Capital FM that the donation has been made as part of celebration as the company has clocked 10 years doing business in Malawi.
“We evaluated several alternatives we could have targeted for our social responsibility but we settled for St Pius for four reasons that Mrs Itaye and Mrs Kapanga who are the Directors of the company went through St Pius Girls and I myself went through St Pius Boys Primary.”
“The fourth reason is that St Pius is within the neighbourhood of Zingwangwa Filling Station,” said Kapanga.
He added that it was important for companies and individuals to help one another even at micro level before it comes to macro level.
Speaking after receiving the donation, the Headmistress of the school Norah Banda thanked C & S Investments for the donation describing it as timely.
“I think this donation will improve the education standards for the learners here as we will have quality education because the materials they have given us they are so good and important for the learners,” said Banda.
She further disclosed that as a school they are facing challenges of inadequate learning and teaching materials though she was quick to mention that with the support of the parents and the community, some of these challenges are being solved.
The Volunteers Service Overseas Organisation has donated exercise books and iPads to Ipyana full primary school in Karonga district.
This is in a quest to improve reading and writing skills among school going children.
Through the Unlocking Talent Project, the project seeks to enable youths in the country to learn mathematics, computing and English so that they are able to grasp Information Communication Technology (ICT) quickly thereby improving quality of education in the country.
According to Education Specialist for the VSO Tonas Kalumika said, “Pupils can adopt this system quickly because they are still young and that is why the organisation is targeting learners in standard one, two and three, so that when they get into standard 4 they are able to read and write through the use of modern technology.”
The specialist went on adding that they initiated the project to unlock the hidden talents among learners while on the other hand improving the quality of education.
He further told Capital FM that the project is also in support of the ministry of education in its national reading program as it also aims at achieving the same.
In his words, Karonga district education manager, Scorch Kondowe the support has come at a time when schools recently reopened and they were in need of support to procure teaching and learning materials.
“The project intends to support the beginners in schools particularly in standard 1 with skills where they can develop writing and reading skills at their own pace and what we have noticed is that in ten schools where this project is being implemented has generated an interest among learners to enroll into schools and gains among those that are participating in it,” said Kondowe.
The project is being supported by the VSO in partnership with One Billion London based charity organisation together with Malawi’s ministry of education science and technology.
With financial support from Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Scottish government, it is targeting ten public full primary schools across Karonga district.
Fifty people have been awarded certificates of attendance in early childhood development.
They were awarded with certificates after successfully going through a 14-day basic course on a Malawi Early Childhood Development (ECD) training manual.
The training, arranged by the Evangelical association of Malawi (EAM) was funded by the Norwegian Church Aid.
According to officials from the association, through such trainings service delivery in areas of early childhood development in Malawi can greatly improve.
They believe that although there are nearly 20,000 child caregivers and over 300 Community Based Child Care Centres (CBCCCs) in the country, the 50 that have recently graduated will have a huge impact wherever they go.
Speaking to Capital FM Atupele Mwalweni, who is an ECD Trainer, said that sometimes it is difficult to improve the early childhood sector due to a lack of transparency by some organisations which fail to be transparent when they receive funding from various donors.
The trainer stressed that this is one of the things that is making donors to shun Malawian organisations in terms of funding.
Speaking during the presentation ceremony Director of Planning and Development for Karonga District Council, David Kayiwonanga Gondwe disclosed that there is a need for nongovernmental organisations to utilise funds they receive from donors so that Malawians benefit as well.
The Director further revealed that the Council is planning on joining forces with the EAM through the office of the district social welfare to provide expertise on the same.
Training modules consisted of child development, working with physically challenged children, child milestones assessment, child rights protection, nutrition, food security, hygiene.
To add on that it also consisted of psychosocial support, making care resource mobilisation, community development, creating a learning community and gender mainstreaming in ECD services.
A local Non Governmental Organisation has stepped in to minimise challenges at one school in Malawi's old capital, Zomba.
This follows rehabilitation of a classroom block at Chilunga Community day Secondary School which had its roof blown off by stormy winds in February this year.
The development forced officials at the school to create makeshift classrooms under trees.
This in turn made learning and teaching tough at the school as pupils and teachers had difficulties adapting to such conditions.
The organisation Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) has spent over MK1 million to support rehabilitation works at the school.
Speaking to Capital FM, Headteacher for the school lamented on challenges learners were facing before rehabilitation of the classroom block.
Maluwa Makuru disclosed that the past have been difficult for everyone at the school.
"Several times classes had to be interrupted due to unfriendly environment hence affecting students’ performance in class.
Forms one and four were the most affected considering that their classroom was badly damaged and had to learn under trees," Makuru explained.
However the Chilunga CDSS head teacher appealed for more support since the school has few classroom blocks.
He disclosed that the enrollment number of students is over 500 which forced authorities to introduce shift classes to accommodate the students.
"Classrooms are inadequate and as such we are appealing to well wishers to come in and help to construct additional classes," he added.
Board chairperson for CRECCOM reaffirmed total support to Malawi's education sector so as to improve quality education among learners.
Foster Kholowa however stressed the need for multisectoral approach among stakeholders to make sure that pupils learn in conducive environment.
Meanwhile, Head of Media and Communications at CRECCOM Geoffrey Kamanga revealed that his organisation’s commitment in supporting education within and outside the city boundaries.
He disclosed that the organisation will strive to mobilise resources aimed at promote girl child education as well as the education at large.
Chilunga CDSS opened its doors in 1997 and serves learners from Ndola, Naisi, Chinamwali, Mulunguzi and other areas surrounding Zomba city.
A latest report from the World Bank has shown that the majority of primary and secondary schools, in low to medium income countries, are failing to properly educate youth.
The World Bank is worried that the trend is likely to result into what is being called a ‘’Global Learning Crisis’’ where children go to school without learning.
The 2018 World Development Report ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’ argues that without learning, education will fail to achieve the elimination of extreme poverty and creation of shared opportunity and prosperity for all.
For countries like Malawi, a majority of the population is in the rural areas where there are already pressing challenges in the delivery of education.
Examples can be given of children, in various schools across Malawi, who attend classes administered in English, yet they fail to communicate in the same language.
These result in a majority being lowly learned, ending in many of them having limited access to opportunity and well paying jobs.
According to World Bank Group President such shortfalls in education, are exacerbating poverty and are a great injustice to children.
The Breton Wood Institution, consisting of the World Bank and IMF, has since called for increased investment in the education sector and proper assessment systems to ensure schools are producing an educated population.