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Background:

Government primary education is free in Malawi, but not compulsory. Many families cannot afford to pay for school uniform or need to have their children at home helping with farming, supporting extended family members and carrying out mundane household chores such as pounding maize and collecting water. Often it is the girls who miss out on their education in preference to boys. If a child is lucky enough to get a primary education, secondary education is far more limited. There are too few places for all the children to attend secondary schools – most of which are boarding and so, even if the tuition is free, families cannot afford the boarding cost. Only around 10% of children get to secondary school.

Many children are unable to access secondary education at all in Malawi. So, in accordance with Krizevac goals, half the places at the schools will be fully sponsored and made available to children from poor and struggling local families. Boarding is very common for secondary schools in Malawi, but our schools are intended to cater for local people, so we have no boarding provision.

Our New School:

The building has been constructed to UK standards and comprises a total of 19 full size classrooms and a number of smaller rooms for group work and other educational purposes. All classrooms are fitted with display screens and will easily accommodate 30 pupils, along with all the furniture. There is a dedicated computer suite (30 desktop computers), a well stocked library and a Science Laboratory.

All the construction work was carried out by local craftsmen and labourers. This provided a large number of jobs to the area. It was not uncommon for over 100 people to working on the site on a busy day – this brought much needed employment to a very poor area of the city.

Outside, the school has plenty of green areas, two sports pitches with changing rooms and an agricultural area – agriculture is a compulsory subject for the Malawi schools’ syllabus. You will see from the photos that the school is on three levels and there are stairs between the levels. However – again according to UK standards – all rooms are wheelchair accessible. There are ramps between the levels, wide doorways and a disabled toilet on each floor.

Integral to every school is the school hall and this school already has an impressive hall that can comfortably seat 250 adults (Covid notwithstanding) and is ready to host school productions, assemblies and the more mundane activities such as school dinners – and these will be provided to every school child every school day.

Originally the school was intended to be primary only, offering 60 places per academic year to local children. However, future plans have enabled two schools to be opened simultaneously, a primary and a secondary school.

In January 2022, Saint Kizito Catholic Primary School opened its doors for the first time to a total of 240 pupils (half capacity). At the same time Carlo Acutis Catholic High School also opened to 90 high school students (25% of its final capacity), full capacity will not be reached for a number of years.

Teaching:

Just as the buildings are made to UK specifications, the teaching will also be of a standard commensurate with UK schools. That is to say that class sizes will be limited to 30 (50 per class is common in many secondary schools and 100 plus per class is the case in many Government Primary schools). We are offering a rich, diverse curriculum including music, sports, drama and creative studies along with all the normal academic subjects. And all students will be provided with a text book each – sadly these are the sort of resources that most Malawian schools can only dream of.

The Malawi curriculum is tough and all exams are set in English (except Chichewa – the first language for most Malawians). Gaining top grades for Malawi Certificate in Secondary Education (MSCE) is just as hard as achieving top grades at GCSE. However, the MSCE is not recognised internationally, so some schools do offer the Cambridge International GCSE. Whilst this is a good option, the exam entry cost is prohibitive for most families, especially in Chilomoni. Secondly the International GCSE does not get you into University outside of Malawi, A Levels are needed for that.

So, subject to Krizevac funding, it may be possible to offer bursaries to the top achieving pupils at MSCE to study for three A Levels. This will enable them to apply to just about any University in the world, providing a cost effective, transferable and truly international qualification.

With funding from Cycle of Good, we have been able to set up and begin to deliver a world class education to local children who would otherwise not be able to receive schooling beyond their primary years. We have created hundreds of secure and sustainable jobs that enable people to use their existing skills and to develop new ones. And with your support, we hope to educate more young Malawians to take on the future leadership of their country, making Malawi a prosperous place for all its citizens.

Written by Mike Merryweather

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