NGO provides Malawi pupils with enjoyable learning environment

A local non-government organisation (NGO) in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre is embarked on a new effort that is helping primary school enjoy their learning environment.  

Under the Happy Classrooms project, the NGO, known as based on Need-driven Grassroots Ownership (boNGO) is painting (government) primary school classrooms with pictures that reflect the school syllabus and make the classrooms a colourful, exciting, and child-friendly space.

Managing Director for the organisation Tereza Mirovicova says pupils learning inside the Happy Classrooms enjoy school more.

“They understand easier what the teacher is explaining, they concentrate better and even absenteeism has been reduced. Teachers, on the other hand, find it easier to keep the attention of the students, they can use a broader variety of teaching methods and don’t have to hand-make the “teaching charts” that get easily destroyed and are an extra expense for the schools,” she says.

A classroom
A happy  classroom

Mirovicova says so far 40 Blantyre-based companies – banks, industrial, commercial and telecommunication companies, insurance providers, hotels, transporters and other businesses – have supported the project. Some funded the decoration of one classroom, others two, and some even 20 Happy Classrooms and more.

“The advantages are obvious. Apart from contributing towards a meaningful cause, they could choose a primary school of their liking (a school where their employees or customers send their children) and have their company logo painted on the wall. Some businesses even chose to hold a press conference for the media in their sponsored classrooms,” she says.

According to Mirovicova the Happy Classrooms project has also been supported by several wealthier and influential individuals who simply wanted to “give back” to the primary schools in their home villages.

She says for example Concern Universal, a world-wide charitable organization, has recently partnered with boNGO and together they are painting 86 Happy Classrooms in the southern district of Nsanje.

Since the inception of the project in 2011 boNGO has painted over 800 Happy Classrooms. With an average of 150 pupils per class the project has impacted over one million children.

The decorations last a minimum of 10 years before repainting is required. Mirovicova says although the project is growing at an alarming rate, many more partners are needed so that as many schools as possible can be reached all over the country and not only in the Blantyre district.

She says to transform one ordinary classroom into a Happy Classroom boNGO currently needs approximately K125, 000. This covers a complete overhaul of a classroom; the time needed to introduce the project to the teachers, head teachers and Primary Education Advisors of each area, maintenance of the old walls, painting and all the administration.

“The cost is applicable in and around the Blantyre area. Extra transport expenses are needed to be covered when the projects are away from the Blantyre district,” she says.

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