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Empowering Voices at Maveya Primary School

The Girls Get Equal (GGE) project has significantly impacted Maveya Primary School in the Maveya Zone of Mulanje District. Supported by CRECCOM and funded by Norad through Plan International, this initiative has brought substantial changes to the school environment, addressing critical issues that previously hindered students' learning experiences and well-being.

Before the GGE project intervention, students at Maveya Primary School faced numerous challenges that severely affected their educational experience and overall well-being. According to the school's headteacher, Maggie Mwakabanga, students had limited opportunities to express their ideas, concerns, and suggestions due to a lack of open communication channels within the classroom. Break periods were marred by issues such as bullying, exclusion, and safety concerns, leaving students feeling helpless and unheard.

"Male teachers used to have love affairs with female students at the school in exchange for good grades and sometimes buying them things over the break period, posing a threat to the lives of the female students," Mwakabanga revealed.

Additionally, teachers would often swear at and beat students during class lessons as a misguided method of control. The students struggled to find effective ways to report these issues to the headteacher, exacerbating their sense of isolation and fear.

Following training provided by CRECCOM  on safe school committee under the Girls Get Equal project, funded by Norad through Plan International, the situation at Maveya Primary School saw a dramatic transformation. The introduction of a suggestion box became a catalyst for positive change, allowing students to anonymously report problems they faced in their educational journey, whether related to their peers or teachers.

Mwakabanga said that suggestion box has made students at the school to have a voice.

"It has provided them with a platform to express their opinions and concerns freely. We are witnessing a positive shift in their engagement and overall well-being."

Issues that were once prevalent, such as students being beaten by their peers and teachers' inappropriate behavior towards students, have significantly diminished. "We used to find three or four issues related to students being beaten by their fellow students and teachers proposing inappropriate relationships. Now, this is all history as we no longer experience such cases. After receiving these reports, all teachers were invited and warned against such immoral behaviors. This made them refrain from such actions," the headteacher added.

The Safe School Committee played a crucial role in utilizing the suggestion box effectively. Committee Member Alice Chirwa stated, "The suggestion box allows us to address issues promptly and effectively. Our students now feel empowered, knowing that their voices matter."

Among those benefiting from this transformative tool is Glory Kenani, a standard 5 student. She shared her experience, "The suggestion box gave me the courage to speak up about safety concerns. Now, I feel safer, and my classmates and I are working together to make our school a better place."



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