The Happy Classrooms project is something new and very exciting for all those who go to Standard . 1 and 2 at government primary schools – children and teachers. It brings to the classrooms colourful paintings related to the syllabus and thus creates a more inspirational and joyous environment for the young learners. At the same time the permanent images on the walls become an important teaching tool for the teachers.
The project is carried out by Blantyre-based non-governmental organization, boNGO that aims to improve the standards of education in Malawi (www.bongoworldwide.org).
Amongst other boNGO programs is the project Zione in Schools (HIV-Aids awareness through film) and project Model ChildcareCenters (pre-school education and teacher training).
The project Happy Classrooms started in June 2011 and since then over 250 classrooms in Blantyre has been decorated. So far it has reached Ndirande, Bangwe, Limbe, Zingwanga and South Lunzu.
In the rural areas the Madziabango zone schools were decorated and the Nankumba zone is in progress now.
“It is encouraging to see the children learning by themselves, just by spending time in the classroom. We have observed that they start writing and reading earlier, being in the environment that inspires them,” said a teacher from the Masuku primary school in Madziabango.
The Ministry of Education is happy with the development too and the Blantyre Urban DEM Ruth Samathi commented, that she would like to see the project implemented not only in Std. 1 and 2, but in all classes up to Standard 8.
Funding for the project comes mostly from local companies and banks that wish to give back to the community in which they work.
Amongst the donors are Group One, Chambo Fisheries, TNM, FMB, NBS, NU Cement Hardware, Barloworld, Knight&Frank, Andrex Industries, Rotary Club Limbe, Malawi Sun, Bonjour, Suncrest and Pick a Part.
Recently there has been an interest from individuals who, having the means, wish to personally contribute towards the development of their home areas. There has even been one Malawian living in Canada who had heard about the project through a friend and decided to pay for a decoration of a primary school in his home village in Mulanje.
To decorate a classroom costs 43,400 MK and every company/person that supports one can have its logo/name written on the wall.
An invaluable contribution also comes from companies that have donated free paint – most especially Dulux, Monolux, Valmore and Plascon.
The apparent success of the project calls for more and bongo is looking for other partners interested in supporting the Happy Classrooms. Companies may choose primary schools of their liking – schools in the area of their operation or perhaps primary schools attended by children of their employees.
“We are currently working with twelve painters that move from school to school and decorate individual classrooms,” says boNGO’s Managing Director Tereza Mirovicova.
And she adds: “We know that interest from the schools is there, and so, if funding allows, we shall multiply number of the painters and make the project progress faster. It is not too costly and has a long-term effect. The pictures stay on the wall for at least 10 years and thus out of each decorated classroom more than 1,000 children will benefit. Let’s give our children a better learning environment. They deserve it!”
Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?