Study circle session at Chilumba Community Day Secondary School
Chilumba community day secondary school is one of the rural schools on the outskirts of Salima district. Previously faced with poor grades at MSCE and many students dropping out even before writing their final exams, the school was among the 42 schools chosen by district education officials when CRECCOM asked for rural schools to work with under the Strengthening Higher Education Access In Malawi Activity (SHEAMA) to increase the transition of rural youths into institutions of higher learning.
Margret Mwenda is the headteacher at Chilumba Community Day Secondary and she explains that despite the introduction of study circles in schools around Malawi by the Ministry of Education, most schools were not adhering to the study circle guidelines to improve the participation and performance of learners. This was due to a lack of the capacity to manage and run the study circles as not many teachers were trained on the initiative.
CRECCOM through SHEAMA oriented teachers from 42 CDSS, Chilumba inclusive to revamp the study circles and see more students gain competitive grades at MSCE to enable them to transition to institutions of higher learning.
“The study circles have helped us to identify different gaps that our students have in different subjects and be able to make them progress well in their education by offering assistance when they approach us with questions as well as when teachers are supervising the sessions”
Mwenda added that they have since noted that through their weekly and monthly assessments, students are performing better than before and this is an achievement for them.
Mwenda said that through study circles at the school, students who sat for their Malawi School Leaving Certificate examinations, have passed well which has not been the case in the previous academic years as students lacked a culture of reading which has been brought forth by the study circles.
“We have noticed that only 4 students out of 21 have failed their MSCE examinations which was not the case before as over 10 students could fail their MSCE examination,” said Mwenda
There has been also a big improvement in terms of Junior Leaving Certificate examinations at the school as most of the students who sat for the previous JCE examinations have passed with good grades such as As, Bs, and Cs which shows that through the study circles, students have been studying to complement their teacher’s work.
Bertha Yohane, a Form 4 student at Chilumba Community Day Secondary School said that the study circles have assisted her to understand different topics that she finds difficult to understand in class.
“I used to find it difficult in understanding some of the topics I learn in different subjects but with the study circle, I do understand the topics better than I do in class since I do discuss the topics with my classmates soon after classes in simpler terms,” said Bertha.