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Enhancing Child-Friendly Education

Creating safe, conducive, and inclusive environments in schools is crucial for promoting effective learning for all children. The Girls Get Equal (GGE) project, funded by Norad through Plan International, focuses on equipping School Management Committees (SMC) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) with child-friendly service provision skills.


Before the intervention by the Girls Get Equal project, Kambenje Primary School faced several challenges that hindered the learning environment. Alex Chisoni, a PTA member from Group Village Head Manolo, recalls the difficult conditions: "Our school wasn't conducive for learning. Many students came to school hungry because their parents, struggling with poverty, couldn't provide them with breakfast."


The absence of a feeding program exacerbated the problem, leading to high absenteeism and poor academic performance. Chisoni explained, "Without the feeding program, many students tended to be absent as they couldn't come to school on an empty stomach. This made them miss important lessons, resulting in low performance and high failure rates in their end-of-term examinations."


The situation began to change dramatically following the training provided by the GGE project. Chisoni noted the significant improvements: "After receiving training on child-friendly service provision with CRECCOM under the Girls Get Equal project, a lot has changed at our school."


One of the major changes was the revival of the feeding program. Plan International Malawi's visit last year played a pivotal role in this transformation. "They provided us with fertilizer and seeds for soya and maize, which we planted and harvested in our school garden," Chisoni shared. "We managed to harvest 12 bags of maize and are expecting to harvest about 8 bags of soya beans."


The success of the school garden was a collective effort. Chisoni added, "Together with the SMC, we conducted meetings with parents, encouraging them to assist us in sourcing seeds and participating in farming activities. The parents voluntarily helped us, making the project a community effort."


Currently, the school is utilizing the harvested soya beans to produce porridge flour, supported by funds from the School Improvement Grants (SIG). The headteacher, Willy Malasa Banda, emphasized the importance of sustaining the project: "We will plant more soya beans and maize this year, with continued support from the PTA and SMC. Through regular meetings, we will ask parents to contribute towards buying fertilizer and to take a leading role in farming activities, as they did this year."


Alex Chisoni, PTA member, reflected on the positive changes: "The revival of the feeding program has significantly reduced absenteeism and improved the students' performance. The community's involvement has been crucial in achieving this success."


Headteacher Willy Malasa Banda expressed optimism for the future: "We are committed to sustaining the feeding program by planting more crops. The support from the PTA and SMC, along with parental contributions, will ensure the continuity and success of this initiative."


Through the Girls Get Equal project, Kambenje Primary School has transformed into a more inclusive and supportive learning environment, demonstrating the profound impact of community involvement and targeted training in enhancing educational outcomes for all children.

 

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