British Council connecting Malawi and UK schools through professional partnerships

The British Council, as part of its work towards changing lives and promoting cultural relations and educational opportunities worldwide, is implementing a project called Connecting Classrooms in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) to give Malawian teachers the opportunity to compare and share approaches with teachers from the UK.

Zifire Ng’oma, a teacher from Chihame II CDSS: We have benefitte a lot

Visiting partners from UK and their Malawians hosts

This global education programme is designed to help young people develop the knowledge, skill and values to become globally aware in the 21st century and to contribute to society and the economy both locally and globally.

Connecting Classrooms’ professional partnerships strand creates an avenue for the teachers of both countries to share knowledge and understanding on the techniques to achieving that.

On Thursday 19 October, there was a partnership conference for the partner schools in Mzuzu where a total of 10 schools, out of the 45 partner schools in Mzuzu, were engaged—with 2 teachers from each school attending. Teachers from Oban High school and Cardinal Hume from the UK were in the country to visit their partner schools; Mazozo Secondary School and Chihame II CDSS, respectively.

One of the objectives of the Professional Partnerships Conference, which was held at Mzuzu International Academy, was to provide teachers with a more in-depth training on core skills where they will be able to understand different concepts and how they can be able to explore the core skills through different activities. This will help the teachers to use the necessary core skills that help in facilitation and make the Professional Partnerships effective.

The event was also organized to provide a platform where the partner schools would come together to share their experiences in the implementation of Connecting Classrooms, especially the Professional Partnership strand.

A teacher from Oban Highschool, Iain Fulton said that it was difficult to find a Malawian partner school that could effectively communicate with them in the UK but later discovered that using WhatsApp was an easier mode of communication with their partner school Mazozo. He further said that the visit has helped them realize that all schools have the same issues on a different scale and that the core skills courses have made them re-evaluate their teaching.

One of the participants from Malawi, Zifire Ng’oma, a teacher from Chihame II CDSS said that the teachers were able to share experiences on what has been working so far in line with the intended goal of the project which is to create opportunities for Malawians and build stronger connections with the UK and Malawi.

“As much as our partnership has only existed for a year, we have benefited a lot. For instance, they brought with them stationery that they distributed to the school which promoted class attendance. We want to continue working on our collaboration,” said Ng’oma

Her UK counterpart also gave a few remarks on their experiences and lessons learned from their visit.

“We started our partnership a year ago. We keep a scrapbook of everything we have done together over the past few months. We compared our diets and poverty situations and came up with strategies that can be used in order to improve students’ performance in both schools in regards to this. Our experience this week has enlightened us on global citizenship and we can’t wait to go back and show our students all the pictures. We want to put Malawi on the map and bring back our students as ambassadors,” Antonia Amomory of Cardinal Hume said.

Jailos Mhango of Mazozo Secondary School commended the connecting classrooms programme and the professional partnerships strand because of the wide impact it has had on their teaching so far. He said that a lot has happened in the 11 months of partnership.

Oban High School donated MK826,000 to buy maize for porridge after discovering that students absconded classes because of hunger. They are currently working on a zero hunger project with school children and the partnership has resulted in community engagement where parents are now stakeholders in the school work.

Members of the community have also been able to donate towards the zero hunger project and now visit the schools to monitor the progress of the project in line with class attendance.

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