Chisawani School Chapter One - Nice, nice, nice......soooo nice!
Our week began on Monday with a tour of all four Malawi Leaders of Learning (MLOL) Schools. It was great to see the schools where all our fellow team members would be working over the next month and meet the staff and learners. We were struck by how different each school was as we travelled from inner city Blantyre Girls School with a roll of 1500 learners within gated grounds to Kapeni Demonstration School which hosts 8500 learners! Chisawani School with 2500 learners was different again, nestled in amongst the bushland and then onto Milala, an off-road drive down a dusty track to the smallest, most rural school for 350 learners.
We received such warm welcomes in all of our schools so we couldn't wait to get started the following day! On Tuesday we were met by our cheerful Head teacher Obeck Likwemba and his smiling staff. Our first stop was to take part in a Careers Talk for Standards 6 to 8. Careers advisors from the local Church group were joined by a local Doctor and Policeman. They stressed the importance of getting a good education and encouraged the children to persue their aspirations for future careers. We were then given a guided tour of the school grounds followed by a visit to each of the classes where we met the teachers and learners.
On our tour we were surprised to find a class learning under a tree due to shortage of space, the school has a pile of bricks ready to build a new class block but unfortunately no funding. One class has been brightly painted through charitable donations,with learning aids all around, in stark contrast to the bare walls of the other learning spaces. In Standards 1 to 5 the children sit on the floor, while in Standards 6 to 8 learners squeeze in three to a bench. Each class has between 80 and 130 learners yet there isn't the normal hustle and bustle we would expect from a group that size in Scotland. One reason for this is the hard working nature and impeccable listening skills (and behaviour) of the eager learners.
This week we have also had the opportunity to observe lessons in Standards 5 to 8 and speak with the teachers and pupils, discussing life and education in Scotland. We have met with a variety of stakeholders including the Pastor, Mary's Meals Volunteers, the School Management Team and Parents. We are excited about teaching our own lessons and sharing good practice with our Malawian colleagues and learners. We have made plans for the development and use of a new school library and will be training older pupils as paired readers to work with younger pupils. We have also planned our first CPD session for staff where we will be sharing feedback and discussing examples of good teaching and learning.
We have already adopted some of the Malawian forms of praising learners, including the chant - (Teacher) Nice, nice, nice.....(children) Soooo nice! :)
Frances & Stephen :)