DAPP nurtured me to survive rural hardship: Story of teacher in rural Lilongwe

Teaching has always been regarded as a nightmare in Malawi, chiefly, because of circumstances the pliers of the profession endure – ranging from abysmal salaries to working conditions. But as Nyasa Times’ Chancy Namadzunda writes, DAPP Teacher Training Colleges – knowing the unfortunate situation that is Malawi’s teaching environment – have, over the recent past, been able to train teachers who are prepared to survive some of such hardships.

DAPP malawi trained teachers organise children in study groups

DAPP malawi trained teachers organise children in study groups

She has the passion, is humble and associates cordially with everyone she meets – from her Standard 1 pupil at Chatsala Primary School in rural Lilongwe to a farmer who, each morning, laboriously works on his garden just behind the school.

“She has become a role model for our children, especially girls,” says Nellie Chipungu, chairperson of a mothers group in Chatsala Village. “She is a blessing to our community.”

That’s how Chipungu, and the rest of her people describe Agness Chipamba, a primary school teacher trained at Dowa Teacher Training College. The college is one of the many colleges built and run with funding from Development Aid from People to People (DAPP).

From Machinga, Agness talks highly of DAPP, saying the training she got has made her adapt aptly in the rural environment she is in.

“At DAPP we’re equipped with special skills so that we can make a difference in the communities we serve, in addition to normal classroom work,” said Agness. “We’re prepared to survive in rural areas.”

For instance, Agness – despite being female, and, therefore, traditionally regarded as weak – has been able to construct her own pit latrine and do small maintenances on her house without much ado.

“It is all thanks to DAPP,” she smiled. “While there we used to clean our premises on our own, did latrines and grow vegetables to supplement our diets. We also used to do a lot of social work by identifying some problems affecting our communities and helping provide solutions.”

According to the villagers, one of Agnes’ cherished achievements is to get girls who had dropped out of school back to the classroom. After doing research in the communities surrounding Chatsala Primary School, she found out that lack of models and cultural practices were the ones that accounted for early marriages.

“I talked to the girls, the head teacher and then with the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), and we eventually got most of the affected girls back to school,” she said.

She added: “Eleven girls who had dropped out of school are now in class.”

Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for the zone, Tony Chinyama, said Agness’ efforts and passion for girls’ education has improved girls’ enrollment in the area.

“When she came in 2011, boys’ enrollment was higher than that of girls. But the situation has turned upside down,” said Chinyama.

In 2014, for example, Chinyama said, Chatsala Primary School had 81 girls compared to 73 boys in Standard Five, 42 girls compared to 36 boys in Standard Six and 27 girls compared to 21 boys in Standard Seven.

Head teacher for Chatsala Primary School, Levious Machisawo was equally dazzled at Agness’ approach to work which he described as amazing and inspiring not only to children but also to other teachers and the community.

In addition to her efforts of bringing back girls to school, the head teacher also disclosed that Agness has helped fellow teachers to open up and begin to share knowledge and experiences, which he says has helped improve their delivery.

“She is different from teachers from other colleges. She interacts well with the community and everybody,” said Machisawo.

Apart from the TTC in Dowa, DAPP runs Amalika College in Thyolo, Chilangoma in Blantyre and another is expected to open doors in Mzimba this year.

Ireen Ntchema, DAPP partnership officer, said since 2003 they have trained over 2000 teachers all working in rural Malawian schools.

Ntchema said that among the many areas the teachers are trained in include agriculture, girl child education, health and sanitation and HIV/AIDS.

“All this is done to make sure that the teachers are not only trained to focus on the classroom but also with the heart to see their learners progress in their out of class endeavours plus making sure that the communities they are in are benefitting,” said Ntchema.

Despite government training thousands of teachers every year, most Malawian teachers opt for urban schools a situation that makes rural schools become dangerously understaffed.

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16 thoughts on “DAPP nurtured me to survive rural hardship: Story of teacher in rural Lilongwe”

  1. teachers never give up says:

    Great article Chancy Namadzunda just some fast facts.
    DAPP has established and is running four teacher training colleges; DAPP Mzimba TTC is operational and currently under expansion.

    In 2006, DAPP Malawi signed
    a memorandum of understanding with the government to establish and operate a total of six teacher-training colleges nationwide, which when completed will graduate 1,000
    teachers annually for placement in rural areas.

    UNESCO Applauded DAPP’s teacher training program in its 11th Education for All Global Monitoring Report. The report is an update on progress that countries are making towards the global education goals
    that were agreed in 2000
    .

    Extract:
    “The programme has been
    particularly beneficial in
    encouraging young women to train
    as rural teachers. Of the female
    students in the programme, 80%
    found that school practice topics
    prepared them adequately for
    teaching in rural areas, compared
    with 38% of female students in
    government colleges. Furthermore,
    87% of female students in the
    programme said they would opt for
    a rural post, compared with 67% of
    those in government colleges.” —
    UNESCO 2013/4 EFA Global
    Monitoring Report

  2. Luke Bukani says:

    Kiiip It Up Akabwera Chilima Vice President Wa Prophesa Peter Munthalika Kunja Adzakupatsa Mareaz & Ma Lg Akoz He Promsd 2 Do B4 10march.

  3. kalembeni says:

    Teachers you always work hard but what you benefit is a sadness leaving, failling to own your own house after working more than twenty years. Sad life to be a teacher train kids leave a better life while urself suffering.

  4. Muhawi says:

    ogwira ntchina ena ….olandira ma medals ena..this is Malawi..this lady deserves recognition of some salt. I know there are health workers, agric extension workers and who are real change agents but are hidden from view. hw i wish we had a fair system of i dentifyin real hard workers rather following tribal lines and favouritism. the country sucks to the boot! The leadership full of crap and myopism. just enriching themselves..i hope one day pipo like Agnes will be rewarded

  5. James Mandolo says:

    So Good To Hear Such Stories, While Some R Leaving Some Are Finding Something Gud In It. Keep It Up

  6. Future leader says:

    DAPP has advertised in Weekend Nation for recruitment of 2015-18 teachers training. Those who qualify should apply.

  7. Rodriguas Latata says:

    Investing in education is the right way to development not kulemba mmakoma andende.

  8. apao says:

    Great move

  9. Abiti Nyono says:

    Agalu inu simukuzidziwa bwino mbava za Dapp mukuzinenazo. Money laundering ili thoo!

  10. Lufita boy says:

    nchito yauphunzitsi ndiyabwino koma the working conditions r not gud

  11. mwana mulopwana says:

    These DAPP institution are worth to be supported and not these foolish NGO that advocates umathanyula, Pls stop supporting these NGO which are headed by BIlly Mayaya, Trepence and his foolish friend Mtambo

  12. vikhalenthena says:

    Woikonda anaithawa. Analandira leave grand Agness? This is Malawi she’l regret.

  13. Matakamoses says:

    This is the only way of transforming our communities from the state of being nothing to something .

  14. True patriot says:

    Congratulations madam Agness.Keep it up.

  15. Shimba says:

    How does dapp enrol student,would like to send my girl pliz cud someone skool me

  16. mvuche says:

    It’s good that you have encouraged to go back to school. For the sake of gender equality please work hard on boys drop out to go back to school.

Comments are closed.