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Resourcing for education on an island

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By Stevie Chauluka:

EXCITED—Learners on their new desks

You may have heard of Chisi Island on Malawi’s second largest lake, Chilwa, in Zomba District, near the border with Mozambique.

The Island has a population of about 6,000 people who lack quality basic social services.

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Among others, Chisi is an island in dire need of resources to support its children to attain equitable quality education.

The landmass has a primary school that has never had desks for learners and chairs for teachers.

The development did not only worry teachers at Chisi Primary School but also members of the community, who have been enduring the pain of seeing their children sitting on the floor when in class. Often, the learners use stones and bricks mobilise instead of desks.

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However, the community has been failing to team up and resources for the school due to the island’s poor financial standing.

Residents of Chisi Island rely on fishing to earn a living.

The challenge has been the drying up of Lake Chilwa, before it got refilled later.

There was no fishing in the lake, a development that left many people on the island with no economic activity. This is according to chairperson of the island’s development committee, John Majawa.

Early this year, a group of young men and women called Team Adventure, who focus on promoting tourism, culture and natural resources in Malawi, toured Chisi Island where they saw a need in the education sector.

National Chairperson for Team Adventure, Kondwani Chamwala, said they decided to return to Chisi with desks to support learners so that they are at the same level with other learners who sit on desks when learning in class.

“We thought of motivating the earners because only those who are motivated are able to work hard. We believe that those who have gone to school can successfully appreciate these aspects.

“After our first visit, we realised that there are learners who cannot be motivated to go further with their education because they don’t have desks. We, therefore, started knocking on doors of corporate members and one organisation, Plan International, responded positively,” Chamwala said.

Team Adventure donated 20 double-seat desks to Chisi Primary School that are now allowing at least 40 learners from senior classes to have proper seats.

The coming of the desks at the school brought excitement among members of the island who, through chairperson of the Development Committee, John Majawa, expressed gratitude, saying the desks have comeat the right.

“We had no desks here and learners used bricks as chairs. The coming in of the desks will also help our girls at this school because they struggle to sit comfortably on the floor as compared to their male counterparts.

“This will also reduce school dropout rates at Chisi Primary School. We are also appealing to other people and organisations to come in and continue from where Plan International, through Team Adventure, has left because we also have other classes that need desks,” Majawa said.

The donation was also supported by Plan International, which has been supporting initiatives, including in the education sector.

The organisation’s programme manager for Mulanje District, Daniel Kapatuka, said they believe that the desks will motivate the learners by changing the way they sit in class.

“We are confident that these desks will make a difference here on the island. We believe learners from the lower classes will be aiming high to reach senior classes for them to sit on desks.

“Our aim is to ensure that we advance rights of children, especially girls. When Team Adventure approached us, we were compelled to join them in this initiative; that is why we have been able to reach this Island,” he said.

Chamwala, on the other hand, is of the view that his team will finish the mission it started on the island.

“We believe that this is just the starting point as we want to do more. We hail our partners for following us in this mission so that, together, we make a difference here. We are calling on others to come forth and support such initiatives and make Malawi a better nation,” he said.

Apart from the desks, Team Adventure also donated 20 plastic chairs for the staffroom at the school and learning materials for Chisi Nursery School.

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