I want to become a teacher
By Felix Malamula
Dedza, 27 January 2011: Among the noisy and jovial pupils at Ngoni Primary School in Dedza district in central Malawi was Enelesi Yusufu, a 12 year old standard five pupil. Enelesi was still at Ngoni because of her unshakable resolve to stay in school despite the odds.
The farming season between December and March is always a tricky period for children in rural Malawi. It is during this period that most parents prefer to have their children work on the farms than go to school. Often, determined children remain in school against the wishes of their parents, as was the case with Enelesi when she defied her mother’s wishes.
“I have always told myself that I will never absent myself from school unless I fall sick. But sometimes my mother would not buy that,” explains Enelesi before adding that she insists on assisting in the farm after school.
“So we go for ‘chidzulo’ because that’s when I have knocked off from school and I am a little bit free,” she adds, referring to the practice of farmers returning to work in the afternoon after lunch.
Enelesi has not always valued her education. There was a time she was willing to miss her classes in order to work in the farm.
“At that time I didn’t like school. I think it was because the environment then was bad. But after the construction of the classrooms, things changed and my school turned out to be the best place for me to stay.”
With funding from UNICEF, two classroom blocks, a head teacher’s house, an office, and a borehole were constructed, turning Ngoni Primary into a child-friend school. Enelesi is not the only one to be enthralled by these developments.
“I have to be honest with you, as a school, we are very proud because we are able to keep more pupils in school than three or four years ago when these facilities were not there,” says Geoffrey Kanola, the school’s deputy head. “Today we are not only managing higher enrolments but also retentions. Our pupils continue to remain in school despite the many temptations and challenges they face at home,” he adds.
Asked about her wishes, Enelesi says she wants to become a teacher.
“I admire the respect my teachers receive here. They are called ‘madam’,” she adds, sending Kanola into uncontrollable laughter.