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New look school attracts boy to class

By Felix Malamula

Dedza, 31 January 2011: Yonasi Takison, 15, has an interesting story to tell. He started school at 7, a year later than the recommended age but early for a child from rural Malawi. But his unquenchable thirst for education received a jolt when he decided to quit school in standard 3 because of the numerous challenges his school, Kalilang’anga Primary School in Dedza district, was facing.

His classes were held outside in the open because there weren’t enough classrooms. Most of the classes were cancelled on days when it rained, he endured many cold days, and the heat during the hot season made it impossible to concentrate on lessons. 

This, coupled with the lack of usable toilets, forced him to move to Chisiri Primary School.

“Unfortunately Chisiri is very far. I had to walk long distances to get there and I finally gave up,” explains Yonasi.

Chisiri Primary School is about 10 kilometres from Bowa,Yonasi’s village, making it 20 kilometres he had to walk every day. No wonder quitting school seemed to be a better option.

Four years later, in 2009, UNICEF provided funds for construction of three, two classroom blocks at Kalilang’anga, Yonasi’s former school. Also included were 8 toilets, a head teacher’s house, and an office for the teachers.
When Yonasi learned of these developments, he decided it was time to go back to school.

“The school was now the best around this area and I had no choice but to return. I rarely miss classes these days,” he says. “I don’t even dream of leaving this school. I will be here until standard 8 when I dream of making it to secondary school and then to college. I want to become a mechanical engineer one day,” adds the standard 5 pupil.

Kaling’anga, however, offers classes only up to Standard 5 despite having all the classrooms required for a full primary school.

“We don’t have enough teachers. We only have five,” discloses Esinta Selemani, the school’s head teacher. “We can only start Standard 6 if the government assists us with additional teachers. At least three would do,” she adds.

“My prayer is that the school will have Standard 6 up to 8 soon because I don’t want to move to another school,” says Yonasi.

He can however find solace in the fact that parents at the school decided to do something about it. They recruited three auxiliary teachers to complement the five who were already there. The teachers are paid from the parents’ contributions.

“They are doing well and we hope that by October [when the new academic year begins], they will be fully equipped to take up the junior classes and relieve the qualified teachers who will be transferred to the upper classes,” says Seleman.

With the support of the parents, the dedication of the teachers, and the improved learning environment, nothing appears to stand in the way of Yonasi one day realising his dream of becoming an engineer.



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