COMMUNITY SENSITIZATION AND OWNERSHIP BEAR FRUITS AT CHISAMBA PRIMARY SCHOOL UNDER THE BEFIT PROGRAM
Chisamba Primary School in Thyolo, Malawi, has seen the transformative power of community mobilization as it joined forces with the school staff members, Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and School Management Committees (SMC) to ensure the security and sustainability of the Building Education Foundation through Innovation and Technology (BEFIT) program. This collaborative effort, championed by the Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) and supported financially by Imagine Worldwide (IWW), has paved the way for improved early grade education in literacy and numeracy.
BEFIT's mission to bolster early-grade learners' educational progress included equipping fifteen schools in Thyolo district with a range of essential accessories, including solar panels, batteries, tablet cages, tablets, headsets, internet routers, and charging hubs. Chisamba Primary School was fortunate to receive these valuable tools to enhance the learning experience for its students.
Situated in the Ntambanyama education zone under the traditional Authority (T/A) Kwethemule, the school staff and stakeholders were thrilled with this development. However, the responsibility of safeguarding these precious resources prompted the school community to devise effective security measures.
Recognizing the importance of securing the BEFIT gadgets, the staff, led by the head teacher, took the initiative to organize a sensitization meeting. This gathering brought together the School Management Committee (SMC) and PTA to discuss security concerns, specifically addressing a broken window in the room where the BEFIT gadgets were stored. The successful outcome of this meeting led to a unanimous decision: the school community would undertake the repair of the window using their own resources, ensuring the sustainability of the EdTech program.
Upon receiving this positive news, the PTA and SMC took the next step by organizing a sensitization meeting for parents. Together, they agreed to contribute one hundred Malawi Kwacha (MK100.00) per learner to fund the necessary renovation. Through this coordinated effort, the school managed to collect seventy-five thousand Malawi Kwacha (MK75,000.00), sufficient to cover the cost of repairing the window.
The deputy headteacher of Chisamba Primary School expressed his optimism about the situation, stating, "As a school, we have managed to collect MK75,000.00, which was used to renovate the window so far, but parents are still contributing. This means that we will be able to renovate another window and a door if all parents manage to finish their contributions."
The success of this plan can be attributed in part to the proactive involvement of Group Village Head (GVH) Kaipsa, who played a key role in implementing the initiative at the school. He encouraged all residents of his villages, including Kaipsa, Matipa, John, Ndikamwe, and Frank, to contribute promptly to the agreed amount, ensuring the program's sustainability.
Before the introduction of the BEFIT program, security was not a primary concern for the school, as their books were safely stored in a secure room. However, with the introduction of BEFIT gadgets and the support and empowerment received from the District Implementation Team (DIT), especially the Principal Education Officer (PEO) and CRECCOM as the Implementation Support Program (ISP), the Chisamba SMC took proactive steps to address security issues. The headteacher of Chisamba Primary School, Mr. Kapito emphasized, "We agreed to maintain the window using our own resources to ensure the sustainability of the program at our school."
This impressive display of community mobilization and ownership serves as a shining example of how collective efforts can protect valuable educational resources and ensure a brighter future for the students at Chisamba Primary School. With the commitment of all stakeholders, the BEFIT program is well on its way to achieving its goals and positively impacting the education of the students in Thyolo district.