Our sisters in Konzalendo, Malawi have had a busy year working with three local communities to ensure that the local schools have enough classrooms and latrines. It makes al the difference to the children’s education to have a desk to sit at and adequate toilet facilities to prevent illness. The sisters worked with the communities to build 14 classrooms and 16 latrines.
The long awaited day for the handing over of the classrooms of and latrines to the three primary schools eventually came on the 24th June. This date was decided by the District Education Manager and all those concerned with the running of the schools.
We had these classrooms constructed because of the great need for more classrooms in the District. In primary schools it is not unusual to see 200-300 children in one class especially in the lower classes and this is what motivated us to do something about the situation. Many classes are conducted in the open and during the rainy season and this can be quite difficult for teachers and pupils alike. “The District has a big challenge in provision of adequate classrooms for learners. On average, one classroom accommodates 153 learners which is almost three times more than the pupil: classroom ratio recommended. The role of education in the development of the District cannot be overemphasised. The government policy as stipulated in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS 2) is to reduce poverty. Education therefore plays a vital role if any meaningful development and improvement in lifestyle of the citizens are to be realised. The district has identified poor quality of education as one of the prioritised development challenges”. District Education Plan 2013-2017. The Latrines were constructed to provide better sanitation for the big number of pupils and staff in all three schools.
Konzalendo, Nyalugwe and Mbawela are within our parish Konzlendo, though Mbawela is under the CCAP Church, (Presbyterian). Work commenced on the Konzalendo project almost two years after the scheduled date; construction was carried out during the past fourteen months. The late start was due to the fact that the local community who had committed to providing bricks for the project was rather slow in producing the number required. This was their contribution to the project and we had instructed them that the contractor could not begin until all the bricks were available.
The three projects were handed over on the same day and personnel from each school, PTA, School Management Committee all came together to plan and organise the event and to invite special guests. From Government we had the Deputy District Commissioner, the Deputy District Education Manager, the District Community Development Officer, Councillor Olima, Bishop Peter Musikuwa, Bishop of Chikwawa, Diocesan Education Secretary, Diocesan Director of Education Fr. Mathews Semba, Fr. Martin Hanock, P.P. and Fr. Augustine Frawley our previous P.P. Traditional Authority Nsabwe and all the local Chiefs were present. The Primary School Education Advisors, the parish council chairman, school management committee, PTA’s , teachers , parents, friends and hundreds of school children. The contractor Mr. Ntanjili and his foreman Mr. Mpasa also came. The media from television and radio were invited by the District Education Manager and on the 3rd July the event was carried on the main evening TV news both in Chichewa and English.
Many of these attending had to travel long distances and due to recent rain our road was quite muddy and slippery. The women had been cooking since early morning and served a tasty meal before proceedings got under way. All then went to Konzalendo football ground where everything was set up including quite loud music. The MC was Mr. Mpeza from the local secondary school. Fr. Hanock gave the opening prayer and Mr. Kalunga the primary education advisor welcomed all. We then went to the classrooms where Councillor Olima cut the ribbon, and the keys of the three schools were handed over. The Bishop then blessed the school and all went back to the sports area to continue the assembly as were the Bishop and Chiefs; all were high in their praise of the new development. Srs Maria and Imelda O’Brien were also invited to speak. We were then entertained with dancing, singing and with a sketch acted out by two teachers emphasising many aspects of education or lack of it in our local situation. A group of women had composed a song about the project which they sang with delight. Children from the three schools recited poems which they had written and this was greatly appreciated by all present. We concluded the celebration with the National Anthem and then all set out on their return journey.
It was a special day for Konzalendo!