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TEACHERS DRESS NEEDY PUPILS
Location
Pirimiti Boys Primary School is located in Mtonda educational zone in Zomba district. It lies about 25 Km South East of Zomba town. The school has a total of 16 teachers. To reach the school from Zomba, take the Zomba-Balaka road. Turn to the right after traveling about 3 Km taking the turn off to Matawale and Air Wing. Proceed by taking the Zomba-Jali Road until you reach Pirimiti. Pirimiti Boys lies to the right about 100 metres off the road.

Constraint

For quite a long time, pupils of Pirimiti boys Primary School exercised frequent absenteeism and truancy. Some who enrolled in school were even dropping out. These problems contributed to the lowering of the educational quality at the school in that:

The problems persisted for years as parents and teachers merely blamed each other: parents were saying that teachers were not hard working and the teachers were blaming parents that they lacked interest in the education of their children.

The Solution

After SMC-EQ community-based sensitization activities, teachers and parents were determined to put an end to the problems. The teachers conducted a research where they discovered that one of the major causes of absenteeism, truancy and dropping out of pupils from school was that there were some pupils (mainly orphans) who were needy and dressed poorly. These pupils tended to stay away from school for fear of being laughed at by other pupils who dress well. Through long staff meetings, the teachers agreed and contributed a total of K4,960.00 (K310.00 each teacher), which they used to purchase a cloth for making 40 uniform shirts for 40 needy orphans whom the teachers identified. The 40 shirts were presented as a gift to the 40 pupils on April 4, 2001 before a gathering of parents, school committee members, community leaders and other officials like the District Education Officer and the District Community Development Officer. The MP of the area, Honorable Gillian Mlombe, having learned from the teachers, donated K3,000.00, which was used to purchase 40 shorts, which were also presented to the 40 orphans on the day. She was the Guest of Honor at the ceremony. In addition to this, Teachers, PTA and School Committee members conducted PTA meetings with parents to sensitize and encourage them to take full responsibility in seeing to it that their children attend school daily.

Impact

FROM HOUSEMAID TO STUDENT

Location

Milonga Primary School in Goliati Zone in Thyolo District.

Constraint

Zione Mnora was one of the Standard 8 pupils selected from Milonga Primary School to Stella Maris Secondary School. Her hopes for a secondary education were shattered when her parents told her that she could not go to school since they could not source school fees. She then opted to start work in Blantyre as a house servant.

Solution

During an SMC-EQ sensitization meeting one member of the community Mr Andrew Kautuku volunteered to pay school fees for two students from Milonga Primary School who had been selected for Form 1. Zione was one of the lucky two. The Head teacher Mr James Kayenda gave Zione's parents K700 to help them withdraw her from work and send her to Stella Maris. The Parent/Teacher Association Chairman also volunteered to take Zione to Stella Maris Secondary School and explain the reasons for her late enrolment which resulted in Zione being a Stella Maris Secondary School student.

COMMUNITY MEMBERS TEACH CREATIVE ARTS
Location

Naghatobo School is one of the 14 schools that are in Njerengwa zone in Chitipa District. The school is in Navithengu village, Group village Head Navithengu, T/A Kameme. The school has seven teachers against a total enrolment of 382 pupils, services two villages of Nativithengu and Samuel II. From Kameme Trading Centre, one turns eastwards and the school is 5 km from the turn off.

Constraint

Lack of extra curricular activities was identified as a factor leading to rampart absenteeism at Naghatobo School.

Solution

During SMC-EQ workshop for the school committee, it was pointed out by Naghatobo members that lack of emphasis on creative arts subjects at their school promoted truancy and absenteeism of pupils. As a remedy to the problem, three women and one man volunteered to teach the pupils pot and mat making, basket weaving and even on how to make wood combs. Every Monday and Wednesday the four community member volunteers come to the school and teach classes 3, 4, 5 and 6 creative arts lessons.

Other project districts have similar initiatives. In Mulanje, for example, Chisitu Primary School has gone to the extent of using the skills acquired to making school furniture such as desks.

Impact

Many pupils are interested in the creative arts lessons as they have an opportunity to acquire skills, which have been lacking at the school, hence reduction of absenteeism.

CULTURAL PRACTICE USED TO FUNDRAISE FOR IMPROVEMENT OF EDUCATIONAL QUALITY - CHIKANGAWA ZONE
Location

Chikangawa zone is one of the 18 zones that constitute Mzimba (Rural) South district. The zone is in the area of T/A Kampingo Sibande and has a total of 79 villages. Field workers responsible for the zone are Mrs H.F. Shawa (PEA0 and Mr R.C. Chunga (SWA).

Constraint

Lack of extra-curricular activities and lack of incentives for pupils to create competitive spirit among them are examples of the factors that surfaced as lowering pupil interest in education. This resulted in most schools experiencing high drop out rates, absenteeism and truancy among pupils. Pupils stay away from school in order to play football, skip rope, touch and go etc at home because such activities are not existent at the school. It is for reasons like these that the SMC-EQ project provides the School Incentive Package (SIP) to act as a "starter pack" so that if the village and school communities appreciate the importance of the contents of the SIP they should find ways of sustaining it. The ZIP and SIP committees are formed for each zone and school respectively to coordinate activities relating to the packages. This is done before the packages are distributed.

Solution

Schools in Chikangawa zone are sustaining the SIP initiative in a unique manner. They use a tradition that is common in the northern part of Malawi called "Ndelelita"or "bevu" which takes place during marriage ceremonies. During this cultural practice, people enter the dance arena and give money for the bride and the groom. At times individuals enter the arena to show off the amount of money they are giving out.

Using the same idea, a number of schools launched their SIP and raised good sums of money and items long before they even received the packages from CRECCOM. They invited people like businessmen and company workers, apart from the parents, community leaders, SIP, PTA and School Committee members and pupils who also attended the SIP launching ceremonies. A variety of activities such as poems, choirs, traditional dances are performed on the launching day. The SIP package is for the bride and groom. Below are examples of schools that have launched their SIP and what they have realized from the launching.

 

SCHOOL

DATE OF SIP

LAUNCHING

CASH REALISED

MATERIALS REALISED

Bala (1 8)

February 28, 2001

K1,188.53

15 tablets sunlight soap

10 tablets lifebuoy soap

5 pens

13 pensils

4 notebooks

4 stainless steel table spoons

1 glass tumbler

cassava which was sold at K24.00, bananas sold at K20.00

Nthungwa (1 8)

March 27, 2001

K2,063.00

-

Chikwengwe (18)

March 27, 2001

K416.00

3 50Kg bags of maize

Mtangatanga (1-8)

March 17, 2001

K4,669.00

Pencils, cabbage, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, over 400 eggs

Kathiti (1-8)

May, 2001

K1,700.00

A jacket, cassava, sugarcane, chicken, sweet potatoes etc

Mtavu (1-7)

April 5, 2001

K2,588.15

-

Wozi school (1-8)

April 13, 2001

K1,250.00

-

Thanthe (1-8)

May 15, 2001

K2,040.00

-

Kasangazi (1-8)

May 17, 2001

K1,500.00

Potatoes, eggs and beans

Most schools use the materials contributed to the SIP as awards to best performing pupils. Those that are perishables are sold to purchase more relevant items for the pupils. Presentation of these awards is often done during open days and closing days.
Below is a typical example of how some of the materials contributed to the SIP at Bala school were awarded to 64 pupils through a continuous assessment process on a variety of categories done during the first term. These materials were awarded at the close of the term where parents and other influential leaders also attended the ceremony.

(a) Academic Performance

 

POSITION IN CLASS

ITEMS OFFERED BY CLASS

STD 1

STD2

STD3

STD4

STD5

STD6

STD7

STD8

1

1 spoon

1 spoon

1 spoon

1 spoon

K25.00

K25.00

K25.00

K25.00

2

1 tablet soap

1 tablet soap

1 tablet soap

1 tablet soap

K15.00

K15.00

K15.00

K15.00

3

1 tablet soap

1 tablet soap

1 tablet soap

1 tablet soap

K10.00

K10.00

K10.00

K10.00

(b) Other categories

 

Category

Item

No. of pupils awarded

TOTAL

Best pupil on punctuality

K12/pupil

5

K60

Cleanliness

Tablets of soap

6

6 tablets

Sporting activities

K15/pupil

7

K105.00

Attendance

Tablets of Maluwa soap

8

8 tablets of those who absented themselves once the whole term

Lifebuoy

6

6 tablets of those who never absented themselves the whole tem

Behaviour

K15/pupil

8

K120 to 8 most well behaved pupils

Captains and monitors

K15/pupil

Not specified

Not specified

Impact

MR AUSTIN PHIRI ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY
Location

Lwanjazi School is located in Kavuula Zone, Mzimba South District.

Constraint

Acknowledgement of ownership and responsibility for improving educational quality at Lwanjazi School had been lacking among individuals around the school. For a number of years, everyone was of the view that it was government's responsibility to put up school infrastructure. As a result of that negative attitude towards school development; the school did not have adequate houses for its teachers such that two teachers are residing at the school whilst the other five commute from distant surrounding villages. The situation has been demoralizing on the part of teachers.

Solution

The inception of SMC-EQ project in the area opened people's eyes. Through sensitization meetings, Focus Group Discussions and Community-based Workshops, the community members around Lwanjazi School got empowered and started identifying and solving constraints to educational quality at their school.

One example of such people is Mr Austin Phiri, a School Committee chairperson, who after being sensitized during a Focus Group Discussion was determined to reduce the problem inadequate teachers' houses. He ventured into a project to build a teacher's house. He bought a kiln of burnt bricks at K8,000.00 and employed a builder to build the house and it is estimated that it will cost him about K48,000.00. By April end, the house was above window level.

Impact

Upon completion, the house will provide accommodation for a teacher thus, reducing the number of teachers who stay far away from the school and thereby boosting teachers' morale. Mr Phiri's action has triggered action from the community at large to intensify activities that are aimed at solving problems at the school. His action is echoed in many schools throughout the project districts. The communities around Chauya School in Chitipa, to cite one example, put together on their own some MK72,000.00 for a teacher's house which has since been occupied.

TEACHERS JOINTLY RENOVATE A FELLOW TEACHER'S HOUSE
Location

Chingoli Primary School is one of the 15 schools in Thuchila Zone, Mulanje district.

Constraint

When a teacher's house is blown off by wind, the first thought that comes to mind is to ask the School Committee to repair it. That is so because the School Committee gets house rentals from the teachers who reside in school houses. This was the case with the teachers of Chingoli School. One of their colleagues was commuting from a distant village house because the roof of his house at the school had been blown off. At times he arrived at the school an hour late or soaked in the rain. This situation prevailed for a long period until SMC-EQ came to the area.

Solution

During the SMC-EQ workshop for teachers, one of the constraints identified was that teachers were not punctual to school. After a lengthy discussion it was found that one contributing factor was lack of teachers' houses and that the situation was getting out of hand because once a house has a fault, renovations were not done urgently; a good example was that of the teacher's house whose roof had been blown off by wind.

As much as they had different ideas on how to solve the problem of blown off roofs, they all agreed to do something themselves rather than leaving it to the School Committee. The twenty-three teachers decided and contributed K50.00 each and bought poles worthy K600.00 and the remaining amount was used to buy roofing nails. They themselves worked on the roof after classes each day until the task was completed.

Impact

The teacher is now staying at the school and pupils have high learning time since punctuality is observed by the teacher. Besides that, renovation of the house has enhanced cooperation amongst teachers and their morale has been boosted.

This exemplary action by the teachers has set the community to work on the remaining development work at the school.

SCHOOL-BASED RESOUCE CENTRES PROVIDE TRAINING TO UNTRAINED TEACHERS

Teachers at Yambe School in Salima District identified the large proportion of untrained teachers at their school as the major constraint to attaining quality education. They immediately came up with the idea to introduce a school-based resource center for the orientation of untrained teachers in professional pedagogical skills and practices and as a place to dialogue about other school-related issues.

Trained teachers voluntarily provide training sessions for their untrained colleagues in a structured, yet friendly, environment. As one facilitator stated, "A good teacher's scheme of work leads to good and effective teaching." He proudly shares his knowledge of scheme development with the untrained teachers in his school. As word of this peer teaching method spreads throughout the District, untrained teachers in other locations are exploring ways to establish similar systems in theirs schools.

A CHICKEN FOR THE TEACHER FOR THE TERM
Location

Yepa School is in Dzenza in Lilongwe Rural West Education District. It is after Dzoto Trading Centre.
Culturally Yepa community is Chewa by tribe resulting in the presence of Gule wamkulu practices in the area.

The Constraint

Yepa School officially started in 1926 yet has been no development taking place at the school. The school uses a Church for a classroom. Other classes are conducted outside which becomes a big problem during the rainy season.

Furthermore, absenteeism among teachers was also very common. In most cases 8 to 10 teachers were absent per day leaving other classes unattended to. In addition, whenever pupils were punished they would disguise themselves in Gule wamkulu costumes and beat up any teacher they had any grudge against.

The Solution

SMC-EQ project conducted various community based sensitization meetings, Focus Group Discussions, workshops facilitated by the CDA Mrs Msiska and PEA Mrs Kandaya for the area. It was during these forums that these issues were raised. During the local leaders' workshops, the village headmen cited the lack of development at their school as an outstanding problem to which they immediately agreed to solve. Each village head pledged to mobilize his community for action.

Equally true it was agreed that no "Gule wamkulu" should be released during school time i.e. from morning up to 4 p.m. Two days were set aside for the Gule to perform i.e. Saturdays and Sundays. In their discussions the village heads emphasized that if one of them was found doing something they did not agree upon he or she would move out of the area.

Upon realizing the efforts the village head had put in place to support the school and the teachers, the teachers also discussed the problem of teacher absenteeism at length during their workshop and agreed that whoever was absent without good reasons should give the colleague who taught on their behalf K100.00.

Looking at the efforts being done by the local leaders and teachers, the school committee also thought it wise to encourage the teachers to perform their duties accordingly. They looked at lack of teacher motivation as also a contributing factor to poor performance of most teachers hence they decided to start a "Teacher of the Term Competition" whereby the best teachers were to be awarded a Chicken contributed by committee members. All teachers were oriented to this activity and a monitoring committee comprising school committee member plus the assistance of the head was put in place to implement the initiative.

The Impact

Teachers' absenteeism has been reduced to an average of 1 or none. There is always a good reason for not being present resulting in some teaching in all classes all the time.

Over 250,000 bricks are already moulded as a result of teacher/community cooperation, which is at its best. One hopes this will boost both the physical and the professional development of the School.

MAGNIFICENT SCHOOL BLOCKS REPLACE GRASS SHELTERS

Although MASAF and some international donors remain the major funding agents of most construction projects in primary schools, the local business community, missionaries, parliamentarians and others have clearly demonstrated that they too are more than willing to assist well sensitized, motivated and mobilized communities achieve their goal of creating better and conducive teaching/learning environments by replacing temporary shelters with beautiful red-brick classroom blocks.

The partnership between Malopa Primary School Committee in Balaka and Rev. Fr Marjoni of Kankao Parish is one example. After attending an SMC-EQ sensitization meeting, the School Committee was able to lobby for his assistance. Where previously lay a miserable stretch of grass classroom shelters now stand magnificently two red-brick school blocks of four classrooms each, resulting in a dramatic rise in pupil enrolment and teachers' morale.

INADEQUATE FOOD FOR PUPILS
Location

Mchena Full Primary School is in Chifunga Zone in Mwanza district.

Constraint

One problem that hindered the achievement of educational quality at Mchena Primary School was that of hunger. For several years, pupils especially those in the infant section were dropping out of school, some frequently absented themselves from school while others often played truant because of hunger. Most of the se pupils came from families that are poor, who struggle to provide their children's basic needs. As a result, pupils' academic performance remained poor.

The Solution

Having been sensitized, motivated and mobilized through SMC-EQ community-based sensitization activities, community leaders, School Committee members and teachers were determined to overcome this constraint in order to provide a better education to their children.

To achieve this goal, the community leaders and members agreed to begin providing porridge to standard one and two pupils at the school during break time. Once a week, community members voluntarily contribute maize to the school, which is later ground into flour. Before long, a 50 Kg bag of maize was contributed. The parents also contributed 100 teaspoons and 100 plates. Teachers too contributed 6 Kgs of sugar towards the initiative. Some women volunteered to prepare the porridge for the children. The plan is working very well.

Impact

More pupils have returned and attend classes regularly. The initiative is undoubtedly promoting the children's health as well.

Location

Pirimiti Boys Primary School is located in Mtonda educational zone in Zomba District. It lies about 25 Km South East of Zomba town. The school has a total of 16 teachers.

Constraint

For quite a long time, pupils of Pirimiti Boys Primary School absented themselves from school. Some were even dropping out. These problems contributed to the lowering of the educational quality at the school in that:

The problems persisted for years as parents and teachers merely blamed each other.

The Solution

After SMC-EQ community-based sensitization activities, teachers were determined to put an end to the problem. They conducted a research where they discovered that one of the major causes of absenteeism, truancy and dropping out of pupils from school was that there were some pupils (mainly orphans) who were in need and dressed very poorly. These pupils tended to stay away from school for fear of being laughed at by other pupils.

Through long staff meetings, the teachers agreed and contributed a total sum of K4,960.00 (K310.00 each teacher) which they used to purchase a cloth for making 40 uniform shirts for 40 needy orphans. The 40 shirts were presented as a gift to the 40 pupils on April 4, 2001 before a gathering of parents, school committee members, community leaders and other officials like the District Education Officer and the District Community Development Officer. The MP of the area, Hon. Gillian Mlombe (in appreciation of the teachers' initiative) donated K3,000 which was used to purchase 40 shorts which were also presented to the 40 orphans on the same day.

In addition to this, teachers, PTA and school committee members conducted PTA meetings with parents to sensitize and encourage them to take full responsibility in seeing to it that their children attend school daily.

Impact