Monday, September 10, 2012

OPSEU delegation visits 3 schools near Makupo village

On Friday September 7 the OPSEU delegation visited 3 schools near Makupo village and each school was an emotional experience in itself.

Under the colonial system, before Independence in 1964, there were only 6 high schools for 4 million people. Many Missionary schools were set up to fill the void and what has happened since is that the churches are still big funders of education and health in Malawi.  Government schools were set up but in many cases, where there were church schools, they have remained dependent upon these churches.

The Chilanga Community Day Secondary School, the Chilanga Sighted Primary School Chilanga School for the Blind are facing many challenges as they try to provide basic education for their students. Overcrowded classrooms, students in dormitories with little food, classrooms with no desks, the list is endless.

We began our visit with the Chilanga Community Day Secondary School.  There are 1200 students with 14 qualified teachers and 8 students teachers assisting this year.  Although there is an official policy for a ratio of 1 to 60, obviously there are many more students accommodated in each class.  When the Bishops University (Quebec) volunteer group came in 2011 the group asked what was the greatest need at the school.  The response was a science lab and that's what was built and equipment has just come in for the new school year 2012/2013.

As we toured the schools we were struck by the lack of nutritional food for the boarders at the secondary school and the Scool for the Blind.  As well, we were shocked to learn that teh boraders at the School for the Blind had not blankets of their own. 

Meeting the Secondary school principal and other staff

Supplies of maize flour for students boarders - but the diet is sadly lacking in protein and fresh vegetables.

The church school where the dictator Banda went to school.

Chlanga School of the Blind student, Judah types a message for us with amazing speed.

A maize grinding mill which brings in additional income to the School for the Blind.

We had brought with us quite a lot of school books, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. and distributed these to the 3 schools at Chilanga.  However, after a sobering tour of these schools, our group decided to collectively contribute to some small projects before we left the village.  We collected enough money to donate 23 blankets to the School for the Blind boarders, as well as a substantial amount to each of the Chilanga Community Secondary School and the Chilanga School for the Blind to purchase more protein based food and vegetables for their scholl boarders.  The principale has sent a thank you message on video and we will have it up soon! 

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