Maveya Primary School is located in Maveya Village, Group Village Headman Bona, Traditional Authority Njema in Mulanje district. For over a year, the school had been operating without a safe water source as the borehole within the campus got damaged and remained unfixed for many months. This forced learners to be walking a longer distance to access water from a borehole which is at a nearby Community Day Secondary School hence missing some important class lessons during the time spent on waking to-and-from the borehole.
According to Precious Rayifosi, Head Boy for Mayeva Primary School who is a Standard 6 learner, it could take almost half an hour to walk to-and-from the nearby borehole. “When we get permission from the teacher during a particular class to go out and drink water, we could sometimes find a different teacher teaching a different subject by the time they come back from the borehole. This forced most of us to endure the thirst till break time hence not fully enjoying the lessons,” explained the 11-year old Precious.
Apart from the borehole, the school also had some classrooms which were only plastered without no lime nor paint in the inner walls hence making the classrooms’ interior too dark even during a sunny day. One of the classrooms which were in such unconducive environment for learning was the Standard 5 block. According to Hilda Mangapi, a 14 year old Standard 5 learner, it was hard to read and clearly see anything scribbled on the blackboard during classes.
In 2022, Girls Get Equal (Nzotheka) project conducted a training for the School Management Committee (SMC) and sensitized them on their role in creating a safe learning environment in order to keep girls in school. “The GGE training geared us up towards maintenance of the damaged borehole and improving lighting in Standard 5 classroom”, explained Samuel Maulana, chairperson of Mayeya SMC. “We mobilized parents through the PTA and they contributed funds which we used to hire engineers who fixed the borehole. We also bought lime and painted the Standard 5 interior walls”, Maulana added. According to Maula, MK250,000 was the total budget for the maintenance work and the community contributed MK150,000. The rest of the money was coughed out by the SMC from their treasury.
The learners are now enjoying the safe water from the campus borehole and standard 5 classroom is no longer pausing sight challenges, thanks to the GGE sensitization efforts for the SMC. “Even when the teacher is not yet in class, we do read our notes in the classroom very easily unlike in the past before it was painted”, testified Hilda. “We no longer worry about missing longer parts of the lessons whenever we want to go out to drink water because the bore is just a few seconds away”, Precious proudly concluded.
Creation of such a conducive and safe learning environment for girls in primary schools is one of the key areas of focus for CRECCOM under the “Keeping Girls in School” component of the NORAD-funded Girls Get Equal (Nzotheka) project, which is being implemented in partnership with PLAN International. The project, which started in January 2019, will phase out in 2024. CRECCOM is implementing the project in 189 school communities in Phalombe, Mulanje and Lilongwe districts.