Desks needed at Ighembe primary school in Malawi

by Scarlett kassimatis in London, England, United Kingdom

Desks needed at Ighembe primary school in Malawi

Total raised £460

£3,000 target 2 days left
15% 17 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 27th May 2024 at 1:21pm

The students of Ighembe primary school in North Malawi do not have desks - let's get them some desks so they can learn better

by Scarlett kassimatis in London, England, United Kingdom

The project

A few weeks ago I visited Malawi because I was evaluating a project that has been encouraging families of children with Special Educational Needs to send them to mainstream schools, while educating teachers on how to practice inclusive education and changing the attitudes of children and communities across the board to end discrimination. Ighembe is one of the schools that has become a more inclusive school, and as a result has many more disabled children now attending. Instead of being kept hidden at home, which they mostly have been, and discriminated against by their peers, these children are now welcomed and supported as members of sports teams and social groups, not to mention included in decision making forums at school and in their communities. Their peers protect and guide them during class and attitudes have completely changed. But these children struggle with no assistive devices such as wheelchairs, glasses and hearing aids which still makes learning difficult. And yet they still come to school to learn what they can. 

There are so many aspects to improving things such as inclusion, so many things that need to be addressed, which we can find overwhelming. But if we change one thing at a time it really does make a difference. I have seen the difference in this part of Malawi where children who were mocked and hidden in their houses, now have friends and are respected in their communities as equals.

An absence of desks is just one of the things that makes things so much harder for these children to come to school and concentrate. Many of them have physical disabilities, and if we could improve that situation it would go a long way towards creating a more accessible learning environment, as well as improving concentration and learning for 100s more children.

What is needed

I visited Ighembe Primary School only a few weeks ago during my two week visit to Northern Malawi. My team and I met the headteacher there, Mr. Laston James Sichali, while we waited to speak with a few of those who have been active in driving inclusive education at the school and in the local communities. Mr. Sichali was so enthusiastic about his work and took me round the school at my request. I was genuinely surprised to find completely empty classrooms. No learning materials, no desks, no chairs and no lights. He told me that yes they really need desks; it's particularly hard for girls, he said, as they are wearing skirts and have to sit cross legged, and stand in order to answer questions, which is difficult to do modestly. But the truth is, it's extremely difficult to learn, sitting on a hard floor all day, no matter who you are, let alone highly uncomfortable. Desks are a basic need in a classroom and I decided that I would do what I could to help get them what they need.

Some of you may know that Malawi is suffering from a huge devaluation of the Malawian Kwacha, and public services have little funding at the best of times, so times are extremely difficult. But in rural places like Chitipa, where many are very far from any services, funding is even tougher, and it's extremely important to educate children well to give them the best chance of lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.

Practicals

I really hope you will consider helping to fund some desks for Ighembe. I will be coordinating with Mr. Sichali. My colleague and friend Chimwemwe, in Chitipa, has sourced desks locally and is ready to purchase them with whatever we manage to raise. Each desk is 80,000mk ($46) and a class needs a minimum of 27 desks. We need £870 for one classroom.

If we somehow fund more than is needed for the classes then the rest of the money will be used on teaching and learning materials which are also completely absent.

I hope to be sharing pictures of the school (with desks!) with you soon. Thank you so much for reading.

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