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Malawi, 10 October 2016: Living Schools Project

© UNICEF Malawi/2016/Matonga
The student designers and Roche Foundation staff appreciating the fruit trees planted by the children.

LILONGWE, Malawi, October 2016 – The Executive Director for Swiss National Committee for UNICEF, Elsbeth Muller, and one of the Swiss National Committees’ major donors, Roche Foundation, were in Malawi visiting the innovative concept of Living Schools. This is a project where children are not only beneficiaries of developments in their schools but rather become active participants in the thinking, designing and making of an ideal school environment.

“We have seen tremendous levels of effort and interest among the children in Naotcha Primary School in Blantyre where the project kicked off. From what we see on the ground, children are an important asset in the thinking, designing and making processes not just for now but even their future,” says Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Malawi Country Representative.

UNICEF Swiss National Committee Executive Director Elsbeth Müller hailed the partnership with Roche Foundation which she indicated has helped the children of Malawi access quality education through among others building of child friendly schools as well training of teachers at the Chiladzulu Teacher Training College which was supported by Roche Foundation.

Müller applauded the Livings Schools Project indicating it has enabled child participation as children have taken the leading role in visualizing their ideal environment.

“When you involve children in the design and thinking process, you give them the key in their hands to become agents of change in their school as well as their communities. We are particularly excited at the involvement and ownership that the children have shown in the project,” said Müller.

© UNICEF Malawi/2016/Matonga
One of the young designers Brenda presenting to the group the concept of a Living School.

The Roche Foundation has been a long-time partner to UNICEF Switzerland National Committee supporting efforts in ensuring quality education in Malawi and other countries. Recently the Roche Foundation funded the construction of the newly built Chiladzulu Teacher Training College which has a bed capacity of 540 students. The Teacher Training College has been earmarked by the Government of Malawi as a centre of excellence in teaching child friendly teaching methodologies.

The Roche Foundation through the Swiss National Committee also pioneered the construction of child friendly schools as part of Schools for Africa Initiative. Roche Foundation is also supporting the Living Schools Project which was rolled out in 2015 at Naotcha Primary School in Blantyre. The project has this year been scaled up to Mchuchu Primary in Lilongwe with lessons learnt being used to strengthen the innovative concept.

How the Innovation of Living Schools works

Children in the two schools of Naotcha and Mchuchu are taken through the design thinking process which involves investigation, enquiry, mapping, visioning and design. This process produces rich evidence in the form of maps, narratives, sketches and models. The process is carried out in a series of sessions around a central idea being investigated during each session.

The children then go through a thinking process where the children are made aware of the relationship between the natural and the learning environment and its relation to the functioning of the natural environment.

The children later undergo a process of designing sessions where they visualize spaces they need which include spaces for learning, reading, leisure and landscaping to turn their school grounds into an edible schoolyard with fruit trees and flowers.

The children are then taken through the final stage of making their visualized designs.



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