Faces of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter president, Theresa Ndanga and first indigenous Malawian lady pilot captain, Yolanda Kaunda have been painted as murals on the walls of a newly-constructed 120-bed girls hostel for Khwalala Community Day Secondary School in remote Mulanje.
This was an idea hatched by donors of the construction of the hostel, Plan International Malawi, as one way of using the two as role models for the girls to emulate in their realisation of their dreams in their academic pursuits.
Khwalala Village in traditional Authority Juma was abuzz with excitement on Thursday when a team of dignitaries, led by Ministry of Education, visited the area to officially handover the hostel, which will ease the girl child’s access to quality education.
The hostel, whose construction investment from Plan International Malawi was over K150 million, has four dormitories, 12 shower rooms and toilets (two of disability friendly) and all ablutions services are equipped with flush toilets.
The water is being sourced from a borehole and pumped into a reservoir using solar power.
Current enrollment for the school is at 449 with the girls at 239, the highest enrollment for girls in the whole district for a co-education school.
Ndanga said it is such an honour that Plan International Malawi decided to use her as one of those who can inspire the girl child at the community school.
“My story is literally one that reflects how life’s challenges should not be a stumbling block to the realization of one’s dreams,” she said.
“Its out of hard work in school that I find myself where I am today. It’s out of belief in oneself that I made sure I walked the corridors of some of finest schools in the world.
“And yet, I am still that girl who grew up in Nkhamenya in Kasungu. The girls should know that the future that they want is in their hands,” Ndanga said.
The school’s headteacher Laston Kamwana applauded Plan International Malawi and other donors such as Masaf, the European Union (EU) and African Development Bank for the many projects it engages with the institution.
He said he was proud that the high enrollment rate of girls at the school surpasses the traditional trend that is common nationwide.
Kamwana, who was posted at Khwalala some two years ago, told the gathering that he has been to many schools in almost each district of the country but what he found at Khwalala impressed him because of the hard working spirit of the girl child.
He disclosed that the original school’s environment did not impress Group Village Headman Khwalala, who decided to engage the District Commissioner for assistance and the first phase came in through Masaf.
“Not satisfied, Group Village Headman Khwalala again knocked on the doors of the DC’s office for more help and the second and third phases were also from the EU through African Development Bank.
“At first, to ease the girls’ mobility, Plan International provided 60 bicycles for the girls’ mobility but because they were not enough, the idea to construct this special girls hostel was hatched in order for many girls to access quality education,” he said.
He disclosed that last year they registered 85 percent pass rate at Malawi Schools Certificate of Education (MSCE) but he implored on the kids that he expects nothing short than 100 present this year.
Guest of honour, Hillary Namainja — Director of Administration in the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology — was impressed with what he saw and said this is what the Government expects from its stakeholders.
He said government is committed to have more hostels for girls throughout the country in order to attract more girls to access qualify education.
“Most girls in rural areas travel far to get to community day secondary schools and government is committed to ease such challenges by providing hostels so that the students can have peace of mind in their academic pursuits,” he said.
“And actually we have reports that when the girls walk to school they meet a lot of challenges such as being enticed by men with money that lead to drop out of school opting for marriages in order to be financially sustained.
“Having hostels in schools like this is one major way we and the rest of the stakeholders can curb early marriages and that’s why we applaud Plan International Malawi, who have a programme in stopping early marriages in this district and other parts of the country.”
Representing Plan International Malawi, Programme Area Manager Daniel Kapatuka said they were proud to provide academic equality for girls and decided to provide the hostel to increase enrollment and deter early marriages.
He said so far they have two in Mzuzu, one Lilongwe and another in Kasungu with more to come.
Form 3 student, Chrissie Phulanya, who is aspiring to be a nurse, said she is very happy to be one of the beneficiaries of the new facility, saying the walks back and forth to school and home exhausted her so much that she did not have the energy to do most of her homework.
“But now I have ample time to study here and complete my homework assignments in good time,” he said.
Headgirl Pilirani Goodson said she used to make a 26km round trip but when she got at home she had to attend to house chores that exhausted her more.
She said the hostel has also raised the social outlook of the community and appealed to her fellow students and the community to take ownership of the facility by taking good care of it so that the future generation should find it in excellent state for their own use.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :