School authorities, including learners from Mfera and Namiwawa Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs) in Chikwawa and Blantyre respectively have described European Union’s (EU) Improving Secondary Education in Malawi (ISEM) program as wide-ranging, which is responding to students’ needs.
EU is supporting the Malawi government in improving infrastructure development (libraries, laboratories, administration blocks, classrooms and in some cases girls’ hostels) in some CDSSs across the country. The union is also supporting the software projects one of which is the Her Education Her Right (HEHR), which is implemented by a consortium of the five partner organizations led by the Edukans Foundation.
Speaking during a media tour recently, authorities from Mfera and Namiwawa CDSSs, said EU has given vulnerable learners a life-time opportunity which is manifesting itself through improved education outcomes and infrastructure development.
“We didn’t expect that one day Namiwawa would have such beautiful infrastructures and empowered learners who are able to fight different ills of life such as violence, absenteeism and child marriage,” said Sibongire Nkhonjera, the deputy head teacher for Namiwawa CDSS.
On his part, Edward Mitewe, a headteacher for Chikwawa’s Mfera CDSS described the ISEM program as a ‘great wonder’ to Malawi’s education system.
“Mfera CDSS was opened in 1998 but for the first time, learners have access to test tubes in the science laboratory build by the ISEM Pprogram. This is a huge motivation to us as a school, including learners,” said Mitewe.
A 17-year-old Margret Paul, a Form 1 learner at Mfera CDSS said had it not been for the program, she would’ve been married by now.
“My parents were struggling to fend for my school fees to the extent that I felt education was not my portion but marriage. But I was saved by ISEM’s education bursary,” said Margret who hails from Karonga village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Katunga in Chikwawa district.
According to Edukans Foundation country representative Limbani Nsapato, many girls were dropping out of school due to factors such as long distance to school, lack of school fees, child marriages and lack of motivation or interest in education; hence, the introduction of Her Education Her Right project through the ISEM program.
“The project seeks to increase enrolment, retention and completion rates for vulnerable girls in 10 CDSSs in the nine districts of Malawi, thereby complementing global efforts in the promotion of girls’ education,” said Nsapato.
The 10 impact schools include Namiwawa CDSS (Blantyre), Mfera CDSS (Chikwawa), Lufilya and St. Ann’s CDSSs in Karonga, Chibavi (Mzuzu), St. Augustine (Nkhata-Bay) Mkanjira (Mangochi), Mayaka (Zomba), Nkhande (Chiradzulu) and Thyolo’s Mikombe CDSS.
He said 400 bicycles have been provided to 400 learners (330 girls and 70 boys), education bursary to 597 students (570 girls and 27 boys, community mobilization on self-boarding facilities (250 girls out of 400 living in safer self-boarding now). And 1165 students (673 girls and 492 boys) received Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and 94 teachers were trained in Gender Responsive Pedagogy.
“These activities have resulted in reduced school drop-out due to traveling long distance to school as well as pregnancies and child marriages. There has also been active participation of girls in class activities which has led to their improved performance and self-esteem,” said Nsapato.
Journalists from different media houses also complemented the ISEM program during the media tour.
“I am happy to be part of this eye-opening media tour. I have learnt a lot of progress which is being registered under the ISEM program. This is an immense intervention which is contributing to quality education in our country,” said Jonathan Pasungwi, a reporter for Nation Publications Limited (NPL).
Her Education Her Right project is being implemented through partner organizations of Education Expertise Development Foundation (EEDF), Girls Empowerment Network (GENET), Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) and Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :