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Malawi, 19 November 2014: UNICEF Representative at the 10th anniversary of Schools for Africa

© UNICEF/2014/Langenstrassen
UNICEF Malawi Representative Mahimbo Mdoe (left) with Peter Krämer, Sabine Christiansen and Kweku Mandela.

19 November 2014, LILONGWE, Malawi –UNICEF Malawi Representative Mahimbo Mdoe joined the German National Committee for UNICEF to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Schools for Africa (SFA) Initiative, which aims to support UNICEF education programmes in 13 African countries in order to achieve quality education for every child.

During the event held at the Europaschule Gymnasium in Hamburg, Mdoe gave an overview of the situation of education in Malawi, where 15% of children of school going age never start school, and transition to secondary school from the final year of primary school are current as low as 32% for boys and 34% for girls.

In response to these dire facts, SFA has contributed $29 million over the last 10 years to help children in Malawi get an education, with impressive results. The funding has helped UNICEF Malawi to develop school infrastructure in Malawi. Prior to the SFA initiative, many children were learning outside, in improvised class rooms where they sat on hard floors or under a tree. Now 58,000 pupils are protected from the rain in decent class rooms. The schools supported by the SFA initiative also have separate toilets for boys and girls, an important factor for keeping girls in school, especially when they reach puberty. Moreover, SFA has supported the development of 2,500 mothers groups and 21,000 out of school children got a second chance education.

Despite this progresses, many children in Malawi still leave school without being able to read and write. That is why SFA seeks to address the underlying causes for poor learning outcomes in school. Education starts before primary school: Early Childhood Development (ECD) helps children prepare for primary school, improving their chances to later stay in school and succeed in life. In the past 10 years, 20,000 toddlers between 3 and 5 years old could go to community kindergartens thanks to the SFA. SFA will therefore strengthen its focus on ECD as a prerequisite for quality education at primary school level. Other obstacles to quality education will be addressed by improving the way teachers are trained and supervised at school, and by paying special attention to girls in order to keep them in school.

Speaking about the situation in Malawi and the difference Schools for Africa can make, Mdoe said:

If education is the foundation of your life, many Malawian children don’t have any. In the last 10 years, Schools for Africa made strong progress in improving the quality of education, but we have to re-double our efforts to tackle the challenges ahead. My hope today is that Schools for Africa will be even stronger after another 10 years, and Malawi will continue to benefit from this initiative. We need passionate teachers, leading to passionate student who can go to school and learn. That is something the children of Malawi have a right to, and I hope you will help us make that vision a reality.

The students from Europaschule Gymnasium in Hamburg not only had the chance to discuss with our country representative, but also with Peter Krämer, the founder of Schools for Africa. He recently visited Malawi, and shared his impressions from this trip, as well as the results SFA has achieved in the past 10 years.

Also present at this event were Sabine Christiansen, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Germany´s most acclaimed TV news presenter and chat show host; and Kweku Mandela, who is a South African producer and grandchild of Nelson Mandela. He said at the event: "We have to create an environment where young people really want to learn, that is the true sense of education." And that is what SFA is aiming to do in the next years.



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