The Malawi Project at North Carolina A&T: Service, Mentoring, Achievement, Responsibility, Teamwork Liz Barber & Tom Smith
Every summer students & faculty travel to rural Domasi, Malawi, for service learning experiences that build global understanding, competence & leadership.
Who : NC A&T, VA Tech & Radford University
What: Year-long A&T Course, Interdisciplinary Teams
When : 4 Weeks, Cool Dry Season, June to July
Where : 4 Schools & a Rural Hospital
Why: Leadership, Service Learning, Research, Sustainability Studies
How: Learning & Serving Through Participatory Action Research
Outcomes for university students, faculty:
Develop global awareness and cross-cultural competencies.
Notice, question global colonialism.
Hone ability to work in interdisciplinary teams.
Develop global leadership competencies.
Sharpen ability to think critically, problem-solve in diverse settings.
Come to understand self in terms of globally situated others.
Build ability to learn from diverse others.
Develop deeper awareness of sustainability issues.
Life-changing experience personalizes third world awareness, develops global “ethic of care.”
Malawi is the poorest country in the world, or tied for the poorest.
Devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic; 10 people die every hour. Life expectancy 38.5 for men, 37 for women. Yet Malawians remain hard-working and hopeful.
91,000+ children living with HIV/AIDS, ½ million orphaned.
Malawi’s universal public education initiative started only in 1994.
Literacy there is a matter of life and death.
One adult in 5, one child in 10 tests positive for HIV.
The only correlate of remaining disease-free is staying in school.
Exams in English in Standard/Grade 8 eliminate all but a few from attending secondary school.
Few schools and teachers. Many schools still under the trees.
Because teachers are in short supply, some have little more than a Standard 8 education, themselves.
Their pupils must pass high-stakes tests at the end of every Standard in order to continue in school.
Typically one textbook for every 5-6 pupils. Most lack paper or pencil, pen. Class size 100+.
Many starve when the rains don’t come, or come at the wrong time. Hunger is hardest on the young and the sick.
To respond to these needs, a number of collaborative projects have been negotiated:
Libraries established and maintained in 3 schools.
Presentation of 2 laptops to the one school that has electricity has allowed for regular email contact to supplement postal correspondence between Malawian and U.S.-based colleagues.
A child feeding program establised for one school.
Permaculture maize farming written into curriculum and enacted to provide sustainability for this child feeding program.
Bilingual English/Chichewa teaching using commercially-produced and teacher-authored big books (poster-sized books for classrooms of over 125 children), books on tape, books translated into local languages, and correspondence with U.S.-based elementary school penpals and Book Buddies.
A sister school relationship established with a U.S.-based elementary school.
Scholarships provided for 10 new pupils per year to attend secondary school.
Scholarships for 3 candidates to complete bachelor of education degrees in critical needs areas of literacy, science, and mathematics. Upon their graduation, these individuals will serve as teacher educators in their areas of expertise.
First aid kits provided & maintained as appropriate for rural schools.
Medical supplies provided by a U.S.-based sister hospital for a village facility which sees over 500 mothers and babies as patients per day and provides anti-retrovirals.
Teacher development of culturally congruent HIV/AIDS instructional materials for Standards [Grades] 1-8.
Maintenance of school facilities: blackboard-painting, curriculum charts painted on walls, repairs to holes in concrete floors and broken glass windows, padlocks for library doors.
Establishment of career education curriculum for Standards 6-8.
Malemia Primary School Child Feeding Program, now sustainable through pupils’ farming a school garden.
Libraries created & maintained in 3 schools.
Teacher-made HIV/AIDS Big Books written into national curriculum.
As his thesis, master’s student Brian Moseley co-designed a series of units in career education, which he returned to field-test. The units have been written into national curriculum.
17 languages spoken in Malawi, 3 in the Southern Region where we work.
Schooling in ChiChewa & English (2 national languages) only.
Standards 1-4 taught in ChiChewa, English taught as 2 nd language.
Standards 5-8 taught in English, all tests in English.
Children who come to speaking Yao or Ngoni cannot understand the language of instruction, lack a “bridge language” to English.
In summer 2009 teachers told about the need for classes in Literacy in the Mother Tongue. LMT was mandated, but no teacher training was available.
Desperate need for Literacy in the Mother Tongue left many learners striving with little to latch onto.
We agreed to help teachers at Domasi Demonstration Primary implement LMT.
Teachers assessed LMT needs & co-planned for summers 2010-11. Chifundo Ziaya, Miriam Sherrif & Liveness Mwanza formed the school planning team.
Rotary Clubs in the Carolina Piedmont agreed to fund the LMT Project.
Commercial Big Books, blank Big Books, materials for making Big Books & supplies backpacks left teachers stunned: “Can we really keep these?”
The LMT class brought 100% of teachers, administrators from 3 schools. Joy is the word.
Across the month, university students, faculty assisted in everything from book selection to book-making to strategies for translating.
Teachers translated commercial big books into needed local languages.
Teachers use highlighter tape to help learners compare words across languages.
Lucy Kapenuka designed 3-language puzzles for Std. 1 children using TALULAR materials.
Yao speakers were at a premium: teachers valued each other in new ways.
Ruth created a much-needed Big Book on fractions, using flags from countries participating in the 2010 World Cup.
Student Michele Delgado “scribed” translations as a blind teacher dictated.
Gift Kawiza crafted a bilingual conceptual map.
Here’s the Yao.
It takes a global village, but the LMT project was launched, to be continued summer 2011.
However, just as we approach the top of one mountain, we acquire the vista of all the mountains to come. . .
Teachers asked: Could we help them start a child feeding program at a 2nd site, Domasi Demonstration School, just for the starvation months?
We want our projects to be sustainable . . .
In 2009-10, children at Malemia School grew maize to provide 60% of what was needed to cover their child feeding program, and are working toward 100% sustainability.
Teachers at Domasi Demonstration School want to start 2 projects to help work toward making their starvation months feeding program sustainable:
1- Raising chickens, both for eggs and roasters.
2- Sewing and selling school uniforms.
Farming, raising chickens & sewing are all part of the Malawian curriculum from Std. 1-8. If the kids kept the accounts for both projects, would they be better prepared as entrepreneurs after Std. 8, when most end their formal schooling? Tailoring is a respected career for a man in Malawi; running a shop is respected for women.
Now we are seeking a chickens person, a sewing person, for 2011.
We continue our work every summer.
Hunt partners and grants to leverage all the engagement that we can for our friends in Malawi.
Take people with us – in every sense of the words.
Write and represent as widely as we can.
Contribute to the knowledge base by doing work that is immediately helpful.
Malawian teachers & learners tell us: “Thank you for these things you have done to us.”
We hope we have done well.
Malawian children come to school with hope for a better future.
They make the most of every educational opportunity.
Through service, mentoring, achievement, responsibility and teamwork, is possible to make a world of difference.
Lives depend on it.
For more info contact: Liz Barber [email_address] Tom Smith [email_address]