Saturday, August 15, 2009

Primary School

This is a typical Malawi village school "block". It has a partition in the middle so there are 2 class rooms. Usually the villagers make the bricks and the government or some NGO provides funding for cement, iron sheets for the roof and doors. The rooms are bare with no offices, electricity or water - only a few simple wooden desks. From the outside it doesn't look too bad but. . .

. . .the inside is another story. The doors into the building are missing and the building is in poor repair because there is no maintenance staff or budget and construction is not to very high standards. The concrete is thin and weak because cement is expensive. You can see that there is a big pothole in the floor and pockmarks on the wall. The blackboard is painted on the wall and some of them have many pockmarks.

This school has 4 blocks with 8 classrooms. There are 8 teachers, who make about $120 per month, and 880 students. That means 110 students per teacher!!!

Education is not like we are used to either. There are few books and resources - finding chalk is difficult and children learn mainly by repetition and memorization.

This is the headmasters office. There is a pile of donated books in the middle of the room but no place to put them. There is another section to the left of this - same size - where about 10 girls who live outside the village live as boarding students. What more can I say.

We have 2 projects under way to benefit the students. First a man from the village is getting funding for a health center to be built near the school. It will be mainly for the students but also for the whole village. Now the nearest health center is over 5 miles away and the nearest hospital is almost 20 miles. Unless the illness is life threatening the trip would have to be made be bicycle or bicycle taxi (yes, you sit on the carrier rack). An ambulance can be called from the hospital but that would take a long time and doesn't happen often. Often people get sick and die from treatable conditions like malaria, diarrhea or infection.

The second project is a library/learning center. I am working with a woman who is the country director of Environment Africa and whose family came from this village. We want to build a library, and get books, computers and solar panels. Education is the key to development.

I have started a computer class and people want me to teach carpentry, tinsmithing and other skills they can use to improve life and start IGAs or income generating activities. If you know or belong to any organizations looking for an education project we would love to talk to them. We need books and money to buy tools, equipment and supplies.



Even though it is just little bits of electricity flying through the ether the contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps.