Cadecom enhances adult literacy system in Mwanza 

Catholic Development Commission of Malawi (Cadecom) is enhancing the adult literacy system in Mwanza by empowering community volunteer teachers through refresher and new training courses using an already existing government structure in the district.

Mandinda Zungu stressing a point
The participants to the training

Opening an inaugural five-day crash programme training course on Wednesday, Cadecom Diocesan Secretary Mandinda Zungu said the country’s literacy levels seem not to be improving as there are still many people still not having proper access to education.

She said the rate of illiteracy has remained stagnant and also seems to be going further down despite over six decades of government intervention for adult literacy, named and heavily publicized nationwide as ‘Sukulu Zakwacha’.

“For parents to appreciate the importance of sending their kids to school, they also need to read and write but many parents are illiterate and do not appreciate the importance of education,” she told the volunteer teachers.

“Adults need to read and write. You can agree with me how embarrassing it can be when one is asked to fill in an official document, say for example a voter’s registration form and one has to confess they don’t know how to read or write. It’s very embarrassing.

 

“We at Cadecom appreciate the role you are playing in your communities by volunteering to be ‘Sukulu Zakwacha’ teachers. So go out there and encourage the adults, especially the men who shun such opportunities because they are shy to be seen to be illiterate.

“With the help of your traditional chiefs, and these government development officers, develop a strategy that can inspire and entice the men to join the mostly female students in the efforts to improve Malawi’s literacy level.

“It’s sad that a lot of people cannot even read the Bible on their own. Trust me, once you shall make an adult start to read, the first literature they shall enjoy most is the Bible.”

She also encouraged the volunteer teachers to think outside the box by making sure of grabbing every opportunity to upgrade themselves academically in order to uplift their social and economic lives.

The training course is being held at Mwanza Teachers Development Centre by three local government development officers, Manford Kakowa, Bonex Chiwete and Janet Msongolo with supervision from Cadecom’s project officer Nelson Mtungula.

Kakowa said most of the people that volunteer to be adult literacy teachers have Junior Certificate (JC) and Malawi School’s Certificate of Education (MSCE) and even those that finished at Standard 8.

“He said normally such a course takes 14 days as in the case of inducting new members but the five days they have to complete this course are enough since most of them are already practising teaching in their communities.

“We make sure that we have refresher course every now and then but the only challenge we have is lack of proper financing from the government. So we normally rely on stakeholders like Cadecom and we do not take this support from them for granted.

“We have analysed  that in most communities where adult literacy is well patronised, they elders appreciate their responsibility to make sure their kids are going to school in large numbers. School enrollment in our district has improved, also coupled with the morning porridge service being done by May’s Meals.”

He said they are encouraged with the patronage of women in this exercise, both as volunteer teachers and adult learners, and their biggest challenge is to inspire more men to be taking part.

Cadecom, which one of the Catholic Church’s development arm in Malawi, has several interventions in education, health, economic welfare and human rights programmes.

In Phalombe, it is helping enhance inclusive education, which is an academic programme aimed at integrating children with disabilities into public schools rather than getting them into their special institutions, is taking deep root that saw positive high of enrollment.

Phalombe has a high rate of people with disabilities that prompted Cadecom, to intervene after discovering that such children are discriminated against in terms of being enrolled in school’s.

So far, 21 schools in the districts in which two or three teachers from each is selected for special training at each enrollment every year since 2011 to be taught in sign language, others teaching vision impared kids and others with skills in teaching slow learners.

Inclusive education involves changes and modifications in content, approach, structure, teaching strategies, modified curriculum as well as school culture and attitudes and it is based on the notion that schools should without question, provide for the needs of all the children, whatever the levels of their abilities and disabilities by providing support that enhance participation and achievement.

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