MK9m resource centre eases learning for children with disabilities in Mponela

Ana Onse Mpata Umodzi (AOMU) handed over to the Ministry of Education a spacious resource centre it constructed for children with special educational needs and disabilities at Mponela 2 Teacher Development Centre, effectively bringing a new lease of life to 36 such learners in Mponela Education Zone.

AOMU is a charity organization seeking to help children in Malawi. Its founder and director, Thandiwe Chirwa-Revill, is based in United Kingdom (UK) and works in schools in that country, focusing on children with disabilities.

handiwe Chirwa-Revill with a visually impaired child

Chirwa-Revill said AOMU constructed the Mponela resource centre upon realizing that learners with various disabilities were using a small space meant to serve as a storage area for a larger mainstream classroom which—being small, poorly equipped and poorly ventilated—did not serve the purposes for children with complex needs.

Moving forward, she added that AOMU will be advocating for the implementation of the agenda of the Government of Malawi, which is to construct a resource centre for children with various disabilities in every education zone in the country. Malawi has reportedly over 415 education zones.

“Otherwise we cannot commit to constructing more of such resource centres, for it will be costly and requiring a stable base of funding on our part. Instead, we will encourage government to replicate in other education zones what we have done in Mponela. We will help amplify the government’s agenda,” Chirwa-Revill said.

Thandiwe Chirwa-Revill and stakeholders with resource centre behind them

According to Chirwa-Revill, the Mponela resource centre “has been built solely using funds donated by ordinary individuals from across the world, who took heed of the appeal for help and decided to contribute something to promote the access to quality education for children with various disabilities”.

She disclosed that AOMU has spent MK9 million on the project, with MK8 million coming from over 100 well-wishers in UK, Poland, Canada and United States and MK1 million coming from some Malawians and the District Education Office.

The painting of the block was done by volunteers who work for the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office led by Dan Pine, as a way of contributing to the initiative.

Specialist teacher in visual impairment, Linda Nandolo, was excited with the handover of the resource centre, saying her work will now be effective and expects the recruitment of more children with special educational needs and disabilities from the 19 primary schools in Mponela Education Zone, who are suffering.

“We teach learners at each and every phase pertaining to the diversity of their disabilities. A larger classroom block like this one is very important. We will now be able to demarcate spaces in terms of activities for each group,” Nandolo said.

Chief Education Officer for inclusive education in the Ministry of Education, Peter Sendema, expressed his gratitude to AOMU for the project, saying “the organization has already began living the government’s vision of constructing a resource centre for children with disabilities in every education zone”.

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