IFAW, HELP partner to improve education in Balaka

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), in partnership with Help, Educate, Love, Protect Malawi (HELP), have formed an initiative to improve education in areas around Liwonde National Park by setting a modern primary school, Nanthomba Full Primary School, in Senior Chief Kalembo’s area in Malawi’s Southern Region district of Balaka.

Jillian Wolstein (raising hands) emphasises a point during the tour of the dormitory

Jillian Wolstein (raising hands) emphasises a point during the tour of the dormitory

Some of the learners at Nanthomba school

Some of the learners at Nanthomba school

Balaka DC cut the ribbon to officially open the dormitory

Balaka DC cut the ribbon to officially open the dormitory

The initiative is aimed at sensitising the local community around the park to appreciate the need to protect wildlife through both formal and informal education programmes particularly for primary school learners.

IFAW Vice-President for communications Erica Martin said welfare and future of the animals would depend on the livelihood of the people within the Liwonde National Park.

“We at IFAW know that protecting animals means connecting with the people wherever we work because we know we cannot separate the future of the animals from the future of the people,” Martin said.

She said although the organisation had been working with local communities and Department of National Parks and Wildlife to protect elephants and other wildlife at Liwonde National Park it had always wanted to incorporate education in the initiative.

“We know that lasting change begins with the hearts and minds of children. Our dream has always been to build an education component into our projects,” she said.

Help Malawi National Programme Manager Lemani Ngaiyaye said offering good incentives for children at Nanthomba Primanary Schools and schools surround the national park it would help the children to appreciate the need to preserve the animals.

“By giving them good quality education we are giving them an alternative to poaching so that animals in the park should be preserved,” Ngaiyaye said.

He said the primary school had been transformed from a grass-thatched to one of the modern primary schools in the country which has also seen the enrolment rising from 340 in 2006 to the current 1080.

IFAW funding has also built two dormitories to house 12 trainee teachers from Machinga Teachers Training College on Open Distance Learning to improve the teacher/learner ratio from 90:1 to 43:1.

Jillian Wolstein, HELP founder and executive person, who came to Malawi as tourist in 2006 took up the initiative to start a more formal education programme with the support from Central Africa Safaris.

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