|© UNICEF 2007/Malawi/ Sevenier|
|Blessings Molles, 12, is benefiting from improved educational facilities supported by UNICEF and the Schools for Africa partnership.|
By Gaelle Sevenier
BLANTYRE, Malawi, 3 April 2008 – Blessings Molles, a 12-year-old student at the Thembe School here, tells a story that is all too familiar in Malawi. When he was eight, his father died, leaving his mother to care for her six children.
She moved them to the town of Blantyre and found work as a housemaid. But when her salary proved insufficient to support all the children, Blessings had to move back to his home village to live with his grandmother.
He is grateful, though, to be attending the Thembe School – one of the schools chosen by UNICEF to receive additional classrooms and furnishings as part of the Schools for Africa initiative.
“By coming to the village, I reduced the number of children my mother had to take care of,” says Blessings. “I prefer living in the village anyway, because I love going to my school. I am very happy about the new classrooms that are being constructed. Now during the rainy season, we won’t have to study outside anymore.”
Improving schools for Africa’s future
In the Thembe School, four new classrooms are being built with help from Schools for Africa, a partnership programme working to create child-friendly schools for millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa. These new classrooms will provide students like Blessings with a vastly improved learning environment.
“It is difficult to study when we sit outside,” explains Blessings. “The children are distracted by whatever is happening outside. Also the rain and the sun are problems. It can be too bright and too hot to study in the sun. Or when it rains, we have to go home because we have nowhere dry to stay.”
The lack of proper facilities created another problem for the Thembe School. According to Malawi’s Primary Education Adviser, Ms. Meresimba, it was difficult to recruit teachers to work in a rural school that lacked indoor classrooms. She is optimistic that soon the Thembe School will no longer have trouble hiring teachers.
“With the new classrooms being built in Thembe School,” she says, “along with the furniture that has been ordered for the new classrooms and the separate toilets being installed for boys and girls, the District Manager will have plenty of teacher candidates to choose from. Many teachers will want to work at this school.”