Learners at Luwangwa Primary School drinking safe water from the borehole maintained by safe school committee
“We learned from the Nzotheka project training that we ought to ensure that our children are safe while in school so that their education becomes a success” – Charles Billy the deputy head teacher and chairperson of Luwangwa safe school committee explained as he narrated the story of how Girls Get Equal (Nzotheka) project ignited the committee’s pursuit for a solution to the water problem that affected the learners’ education. Initially, some learners had to carry bottles of water from home to quench thirst while at school while other learners had to go home from the school cam-pus just to drink water, hence missing some lessons. For girls, the situation was worse as some of them had to abscond classes when they are on menstruation periods because the absence of water on the school campus compromised the sanitation thereof.
Luwangwa Primary School is in Tchavi village, Group Village Headman Mwawihe, Tradition-al Authority Juma in Mulanje district. In 2020, the school welcomed the NORAD-funded Girls Get Equal project being implemented by CRECCOM in partnership with PLAN International. CRECCOM established and trained the safe school committee on how they can lead the community in improving the school environment so that it becomes safe for teaching and learning in favor of both boys and girls. Following the training, a suggestion box was created by the committee for learners to throw in their grievances and ideas concerning their safety at the school.
“Reading the papers from the suggestion box, we noted that many learners complained about the water issue and how it affects them, and this was a wakeup call for us to fix the problem”. – explained Estele Mwaulma, a member of the committee. According to her, the committee in collaboration with the school management Committee (SMC) decided to act on the maintenance of the school borehole which was damaged but left unfixed.
“The suggestion box made us realize that one of the problems that made our school unsafe for learners was lack of safe water source. We then discussed with the SMC and used the school improvement plan funds to fix the bore-hole” – Mwaulama continued to narrate. The borehole was then fixed and now learners enjoy safe water while in school. Girls no longer have to abscond classes as they can wash hands right on campus after changing sanitary pads from their changeroom.
According to Pempho Sakwata who is one of the female learners at the school, fixing the water problem really brought a sigh of relief to her and fellow girls. “We no longer carry water to school or go home during classes just to find water because the borehole is now fixed.” – Pempho asserted. Such a conducive school environment contributes to keeping girls in school which is the GGE project component that CRECCOM is implementing.