Turning education dreams into reality

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The work of KINDLE Orphan Outreach is supported by SIM Malawi project

MW96758 Outreach and Development in Nanjoka

 

Access to education for many children in Malawi is difficult. Poor infrastructure and resources, pupil-teacher ratios of 60 to 90 children to one teacher are not uncommon, and the costs of fees and uniforms are also prohibitive. KINDLE Orphan Outreach is working with the community it serves to overturn many of these obstacles through its Education stream of work

Seeing crowds of children and young people walking to and from school is a common sight in Malawi. Often full of exuberance, singing and shouting as they go, these are the fortunate ones who are benefiting from some sort of education.

For orphans and vulerable children, school is often something they only dream of. School fees and school uniforms are expensive, and books and equipment are also out of reach. The nearest school is many kilometres away, especially in rural areas, the buildings are falling apart, and resources are few.

For such children in Salima, however, hope is at hand through KINDLE Orphan Outreach’s work in its Education stream.

Education is one of KINDLE’s four main areas of work (the others being Health Care, Community Development and Spiritual Growth), and it approaches this work in two main ways; supporting orphans and vulnerable children in school with the payment of fees and provision of uniforms, and helping with community infrastructure projects to build schools and Community-Based Care Centres.

Grace Mbene (left) is KINDLE’s Education Co-ordinator and she explained how work in this area is carried out.

“KINDLE as an organisation is doing a lot of things. Just to explain a bit about the KINDLE education activities, KINDLE supports orphan and vulnerable children in terms of school fees. As of now we are supporting 103 students in different schools. We have got five students in tertiary schools and we are supporting M’bwezera Junior Primary School with the building of new classrooms and teachers’ houses,” she said.

“One of the ways we are supporting schools is by supporting the best performers. We provide the Top Ten pupils with school learning materials such as books and pencils, sometimes we provide back packs. We hope that by offering such incentives, pupils will want to raise their own standards to be counted in the Top Ten students,” she said.

M’bwezera Junior Primary School is an interesting place to see the difference the partnership between community and KINDLE can make. On one side of the campus is a dilapidated wood-and-thatch structure that has been the school building for many years. Although it is falling down, it will still be used for the older children until the new accommodation is ready. On the other side are two new teaching blocks ready for this year’s school year, and a third is under construction.

The future: One of the classrooms at the almost completed M’bwezera Junior Primary School nesr Nanjoka. At the time of writing two blocks had been completed and a third was under construction

Behind the school buildings are two new houses nearing completion which will be homes for the head teacher and deputy head. The community came up with the idea for the new buildings and approached KINDLE for help which they have given.

“The community bought bricks which were used to build the blocks and KINDLE came up with the iron sheets [for the roofs], timber and the labour costs. So it was the community doing its part and the organisation doing its part that has made this development possible,” said Grace.

The new blocks will house children in Standards One to Six, roughly starting from age six to age 13, but the starting and finishing ages can vary a great deal.

“Here in Malawi children do not know the value of education, so for them to start in Standard One they start at an older age, but normally we want a child at age six to start in Standard One,” said Grace.

“But, just because of not valuing education and parents not showing attention in sending their children to school at an early stage, such as age six as recommended by the Government, it is not unusual for them to reach Standard Eight as late as age 18. Normally at age 18 a child is meant to be at secondary school.”

The new blocks, when completed, will house 350 or more children who will come from the local communities within the KINDLE catchment area.

The Past: Across the campus is the ‘old’ M’bwezera Junior Primary School which was still in use until very recently, even in its dilapidated state!

Important as this Primary School is to this community, more is needed. Currently, for example, the nearest secondary school is a good distance away, and providing secondary education is high on KINDLE’s ‘to do’ list, as Grace explained.

“In our plans, this school will be completed to reach up to Standard Eight,” she said.

“After this, our vision is also to have a Secondary School. We cannot only assist these children to have a primary school course, while the existing secondary school is a bit far; almost 15 kilometres away.

“Our plan is to have a closer secondary school so that our children here should have a chance to go to a course at a secondary school. About 80 per cent of children in our catchment area are using the projects that KINDLE is doing. The children, and their parents and guardians, are appreciating the developments that the organisation is doing. So, we are thinking that as the project is growing bigger, like having the vision of building the secondary school, our aim is that we are going to support the education of a lot of people around this community.”

Thanks to support for fees and uniforms, and helping the community to develop infrastructure projects, a good education for children in the Nanjoka area may not need to be a dream in the future due to KINDLE Orphan Outreach and its partnerships with local communities.

Community outreach: KINDLE has helped to provide a pre-school community base (top) in one of the local villages, and the children are very excited to be able to go to the school!

 

 

 


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