| May 3, 2021
May 2021 Update
Carrying water for class hand washing
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!