GlobalGiving Report May - August 2021
Context during the period
Schools have remained open since our last report in May. The third wave of the pandemic seems to be waning, however a fourth wave is forecasted for the region. Vaccination uptake and availability in Malawi is very low and about 2% of the population is estimated to have been vaccinated assuming those who have received the first dose also received a second.
As a result of Covid-19 we have had the opportunity to rethink our strategy so that your precious donations make the greatest impacts. We already have data showing the significant and positive impacts of our programme on 4000 primary school children in 10 public primary schools. Our evidence-based, child-centred teaching and learning methods accelerated childrens’ learning by over 433 % in just one year. It was gratifying to see that the Malawi Government recognised the advantages for these children by posting our volunteer specialist literacy teachers to the same schools, so that these teachers can provide continuity for their pupils and build on the significant progress made.
To reach a greater number of schools in Malawi (there are just over 6,000 in the country) we are now concentrating our efforts on teacher training. Working closely with the lead teacher training institution in Malawi, Emmanuel University (EmUni) based in the capital city of Lilongwe (Central region). We have been invited to help ensure their graduate teachers understand and are able to effectively teach using our methods.
Our partnership with EmUni, an organisation with a strong ethos of innovation and community partnerships, aims to develop and document appropriate ways of supporting improved literacy teaching within the teacher training curriculum. This will then be able to be offered more broadly to the sector through the Ministry of Education, who set guidance, standards and manage the public teacher training institutions.
Your donation has enabled us to continue work with our partner, Emmanuel University who began to train a new cohort of student-teachers from April this year. These are the first primary school student-teachers who no longer study for a two-year Certification, and who now study a three-year Diploma course.
To help with the development of the diploma course, we have been further developing our relationship with the English, Chichewa and Maths lecturers and learning more about the current course structure, content, teaching demonstrations, lesson planning etc. ensuring that we create contextually appropriate, sustainable practices and progressive change.
Working remotely during this period, the CharChar-EmUni Technical Working Group began by co-developing the aims of the partnership. EmUni identified their broad needs and challenges, which we responded to by developing practical ways in which CharChar can support the University to meet these needs and overcome the technical and practical challenges.
Our joint Technical Working Group is now making good progress, we are currently focussed on the ‘how’ (pedagogy) of teaching. Lecturers are beginning to implement new practices directly in their classrooms and have received positive feedback from student teachers. We have also had the opportunity to train lecturers in new methods of providing feedback to their students. One of our professional training experts has successfully trained the Technical Working Group in providing analysis and culturally appropriate positive feedback, following current neuro-linguistic programming approaches. The focus of these sessions is on developing and reinforcing best practice and professional growth. This approach has already been adopted by the lecturing staff and successfully implemented in the University.
Lecturers are excited by the introduction of new methodologies, particularly as they have experienced the positive impacts for themselves and on their students. This feedback is very encouraging and our team of volunteer technical advisors remain committed and motivated to continue this work.
On a side note, the process is quite intensive and there are frequent disruptions (and not always in Malawi!) with connectivity, bandwidth and electricity supply. This means developing the work both in Malawi and in the UK requires dedication and a lot of time. However, we are very grateful to be able to support our colleagues in Malawi this way. A few years ago this kind of remote support was unthinkable!
Your support has also enabled us to continue supporting about 40 recently qualified teachers who were retrained with CharChar’s literacy specialism. We continue to provide; coaching and mentoring support, teaching and learning resources and psycho-social support throughout the pandemic.
This year there have been a lot of changes made in the Ministry, this has made it more difficult to engage, particularly as the Ministry has been getting to grips with the impacts of the global pandemic. Now that there are a number of new Directors in post in the Ministry of Education we will reach out and introduce our work in the coming period. There is also a new USAID funded programme coming to Malawi in the next year and we have been developing ideas about how we can use this opportunity to work with others and help maximise our impacts
In order for lecturers and student teachers to see the new practices and their impacts for themselves, we urgently need to develop two demonstration schools close to the University. Unfortunately our pilot programme being in the southern region, is roughly 500kms away from the University and is therefore not close enough for lecturers and students to travel to.
As part of our work with EmUni we will develop additional teaching and learning materials (and professional development portfolios) around the demonstration schools, so that lecturers and students are provided with the opportunity for an immersive and holistic learning experience.
Everything we do in collaboration with EmUni is being documented, with the intention to support the development of all teacher training institutions nationally. The development of two demonstration schools will also enable us to showcase evidence based, high quality teaching practices in inclusive accelerated learning, whilst allowing student teachers and lecturers to be connected with the reality of primary school teaching in Malawi. These two schools are also planned to serve as a live demonstration to the wider primary education sector - since the practices are not on view elsewhere. We maybe small with big ambitions but thanks to your support we are extremely proud of the significant impacts we’re making!
Our ask to you
If you would like to help us by fundraising in your community to reach our target of £50,000 for the two demonstration schools, please contact us for a fundraising kit and support at: email@example.com
Finally, on behalf of all of us at CharChar a huge THANK YOU for your generosity! Your support is essential to change the quality of teaching in Malawi and ultimately to improve the literacy rates and lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Please continue to support us - we value every penny and remain committed to spending 100% of your donations in-country.
Covid-19 has continued to affect our work. Schools were mostly closed up to the second week of March, and with much disruption in communities and the education sector it took several weeks for the message to reach families for children to return to school again. The second wave of the pandemic took a significant toll on the nation this year, which sadly included the loss of friends and advocates of CharChar.
On the bright side, we are thrilled to report that our Partner, the lead teacher training institution in Malawi, Emmanuel University (EmUni), formerly known as Emmanuel Teacher Training College, has finally been able to open its doors to a new cohort of student-teachers at the end of April. We have now formalised our partnership with EmUni with a Memorandum of Understanding. This partnership marks significant progress in our goal to positively impact teaching and learning outcomes nationally.
The process of co-developing an updated teacher-training curriculum for the university and actively collaborating with the senior management has now begun. This first stage is crucial to the overall success of the project. For the lecturers, this is the first time that they have been exposed to the new methodologies and teaching practices. Our technical teaching programme, based on internationally evidenced methodologies and adapted for culture, logistics and the local context, remains unique in Malawi today.
It is very gratifying to note that the partnership between Emmanuel University and CharChar has been recognised by the Ministry of Education. We are honoured that the Director of Teacher Education and Development has expressed particular interest in this project and asked to be involved every step of the way.
This current project and collaboration with EmUni builds on the success of previous work in which CharChar trained groups of newly qualified graduate teachers in evidence-based child-centred teaching and learning methods, where we accelerated pupils’ learning by over 433 % in one year. It is more effective to work at scale by training whole cohorts of teachers and working directly with a teacher training institution, using individual and joint strengths. Hence, everything we do with EmUni is in collaboration with the government, hence we are also documenting this work with the aim to work, in future, with other teacher training colleges in Malawi.
Since our last report, we have been focusing heavily on our strategy with teacher training whilst continuing to support previous graduates of the CharChar teacher-education programme. We asked a few of our CharChar trained teachers to share with you their experiences of teaching with new methods:
Patricia: “The new methods we learned through CharChar training have been good for teachers and learners. The children, who started school with us 3 years ago, have made good progress. However, those who have joined recently from other schools or those who have had to repeat Std3 (I.e. have been kept back), have a big problem because they don't know their letter sounds and their level of literacy is far behind their classmates.
The most useful skills, which have made a notable difference to my lessons, is teaching and learning through songs, and teaching English by segmenting and blending the phonics sounds.
Constantine: I'm enjoying my new school environment. Learners are keen to learn due to the new language techniques I have introduced. Learners are responding positively and actively during my lessons and are clearly learning. This is most visible when learners are decoding sounds. My new teaching partners (veteran teachers) are curious to learn more from me upon seeing great progress in my learners. In fact my learner's are having fewer challenges than other learners in other classes, this has been noted by other veteran teachers and the school management. This impact I believe is due to the special training I underwent with CharChar.
There has been an increase in the number of learners who are attending my class. Most of them enjoy the games and songs that accompany my lessons, I can see that they enjoy them very much and at the same time I can see that learning is taking place.
On behalf of all of us at CharChar a huge thank you to you for your generosity! Your support is helping to improve the lives and literacy rates of thousands of Malawian primary school children and their teachers. Please stay with us on this journey!
Dear CharChar’s Friends,
Over the past few months, we have been reorganising our efforts to be able to adapt our programmes to the current situation, considering that children in Malawi are facing a learning crisis due to school closures in March to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Primary school classes have now resumed since 7th September, with junior class attendance staggered to avoid the risks associated with the virus. We are equipping ourselves, partnering with organisations in the education sector to secure sufficient funding to implement our programmes from January 2021 in line with the start of the new academic year.
Your support is essential to make this possible. The pandemic has affected the development sector in an incomparable way. With many programmes on hold and some funds reallocated for the COVID-19 response, organisations across the industry are working on tight budgets. We work tirelessly to continue to support the children’s right to a quality education in Malawi. We are strengthening our team domestically and internationally, with a constantly growing volunteer staff to make better use of our resources and increase our revenues stream, so that we can continue to fully invest in the education of Malawian children through assessed programmes that create positive systemic change.
Despite the world coming to a complete stop and learning disrupted, children still need an education. With almost no second graders (0.2%) considered "readers" in Malawi, literacy initiatives are a priority.
Within the current situation, it would take 23 years to produce a primary school graduate in Malawi, instead of 8 years with perfect efficiency. Malawian children have the right to quality education and become literate. Let's change these figures together.
Be an advocate for every child, everywhere today.
Thank you for supporting CharChar’s cause!
From the entire CharChar Team, our trustees, our volunteers around the globe, and from me of course.
Melina San Martín
Trustee, Director of Communications & Fundraising
Project Leader for CharChar’s GlobalGiving campaign “Literacy for Malawi”
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