Our Malawi Project
Coordinator Karen Goodman-Jones reports on an unusual approach to inclusive
education in Northern Malawi ….
“Chalk and cheese”
and “chicken and egg”. We’re all familiar with these phrases, but what about
“chicken and chalk”? For one enterprising community in Northern Malawi this is
their approach to a more inclusive education for those with disabilities. And
Six months in to
our four-and-a-half year project, which is funded by the Scottish Government,
it’s a good time to take stock and assess our progress.
Our project is
designed to work with rural communities in Northern Malawi, challenging
negative attitudes towards people with disabilities, especially children with
additional learning needs. We believe every child has a right to an education
and the lifelong opportunities and choices that this offers.
To reach this goal
we’re working with our local partner – Church of Central Africa Presbyterian
(CCAP) Synod of Livingstonia Education Department. And we’re working with
respected community leaders, teachers and head teachers, parents and brothers
and sisters of those with disabilities. We offer the chance to learn about
children’s rights and their abilities, and to encourage an attitude that with
support, children with additional needs can attend school, can
learn, can make friends and can achieve academically.
To date our project
has directly reached nearly 2,200 children, parents, teachers and community
leaders with training and support to champion the rights of all children to an
But behind these
numbers, what has changed for the individuals?
This is where the chickens come in… as a way forward for the community in the village of Mfinda, in Chitipa District, to support their learners with additional needs at their local school, Mpale School.
Mfinda village has
a population of nearly 5,600 people and this training was the first time any of
them had been exposed to the idea of inclusive education. Following village
meetings, they decided to put in place new by-laws with those ‘breaking’ the
by-law facing a ‘chicken fine’.
Those who failed to
attend the village’s development meetings, which look to improve their
community’s future, faced a fine of one chicken. This was then taken further to
support inclusive education, with every family failing to send any of their
children to school, regardless of any additional needs having to pay a ‘chicken
fine’. With each chicken worth around
£2, this money is donated to the school to purchase chalk and other essentials
necessary for learning.
According to the
School Management Committee Chairman, Mr Mark Mtambo, in only the first few
weeks since the by-law was introduced, two families have been fined, £4 has
been raised to buy chalk and two children with additional needs are now
registered to attend school.
For the village of Mfinda, and indeed Mpale School, it’s a win-win situation; all the local children will now have a chance to learn and, if they fail to attend, their teaching resources are being increased. With over 1,800 pupils, of which nearly 100 have been identified as having additional needs, boxes of chalk are in short supply!
This is just one small
story from the dozens of communities where we work, and just highlights some of
the 2,200 people who are now being offered the chance to change their lives for
the better, thanks to the people of Scotland.
We will be
following Mfinda Village and many others over the coming months, so please do
check back and see what a difference your tax is making to children in Northern
ENABLE Scotland and Sense Scotland have been awarded Carer Positive status. The Carer Positive scheme is operated by Carers Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and is awarded to employers who introduce working practices that aims to make life easier for those who have caring responsibilities.
Funding of more than £1.2 million has been secured by Sense Scotland from the Scottish Government’s Malawi Development Fund to continue its life-changing work which supports the development of inclusive education in Northern Malawi.