Autumn is here and the end of the year is approaching fast but in Malawi the 2017/18 School Year has just commenced and the Rainy Season is just around the corner for them. Maize crops have been planted and the hope will be for sufficient rains – enough to produce a good crop but getting too little or too much rain will be disastrous. Now is a very busy time for our partner, Francis. His Tour season has almost come to an end and he is available to help us once again at Nansambo. There is however much to do before the rains start when the Nansambo road will quickly become inaccessible to vehicles. The priority is
to equip our sponsored pupils as soon as possible – uniforms, shoes, school bags, scientific calculators [for the new pupils], school fees, learning materials and stationery. I think you can tell Francis is going to be very busy!
We have ordered a further large delivery of stationary and sports equipment to be delivered to Nansambo within the month together with a further large delivery books for the Library. Some books are so worn and the demand from the pupils to help their studies is for Reference books so the emphasis on this delivery is to continue to build up the reference section in the Library and replace damaged books
Our Librarian, Mathias, has left Nansambo but fortunately Steve, one of the Assistant Teachers, who obtained the higher Malawi Secondary Certificate of Education [MSCE] has taken over and has started as the new Librarian this term.
So we plan to fund two new Assistant Teachers, to start work in the school this term. Francis will have the final say who is taken on and will liaise with the Nansambo Head Teacher and School Committee in this process.
As the Year 2 Junior Certificate exam was abolished this year to save government costs – considered by all to be very short-sighted – with the support of the Head and Staff of Balamanja the Fund introduced its own Year 2 exam. This was to provide a review of progress and weaknesses that could be worked on by our sponsored pupils before Year 4 and the MSCE. All four Year 2 sponsored pupils passed the exam and it proved to be a worthwhile exercise for pupils and for Balamanja School Staff, who used the exam for all Year 2 pupils at the school. We’re not sure we will repeat this next year, as it took so long for us to be notified of the results, and in future we may just rely on progress reports from the Head Teacher of Balamanja alone which tends to be an accurate indication of how the pupils are doing.
Earlier in the year, the Head Teacher of Balamanja sent us a request asking if we could supply personal hygiene items to help improve attendance of the girls we sponsor at his school because each month they were absent for 3-4 days. After contact, via the internet, with a Malawi based manufacturer of reusable guaranteed products, we placed an order which should last all our current and future sponsored girls for the next five years.
As we wrote in May, we plan a major buildingwork around next March / April time. We’re waiting for estimates/quotes from two different builders for cement work [cracked walls] and floors[breaking up,] painting and carpentry work [the termites have been busy again in the toilet doors but thankfully not in the Library now all shelving is metal!]
The work involved will be carried out early next year and include all of the buildings the Fund has renovated or constructed including five classrooms, the Library and both of the toilet blocks at the school. Once we decide on a builder they will start work as soon as the rains come to an end next Spring.
The bore hole is working well and after the rains we will send engineers from Blantyre to carry out their yearly annual maintenance and any repairs - if necessary. We are, however, hoping that after a complete rebuild and the installation of a new Afridev pump earlier this year there will not be any major problems.
On to 2018! John, Jane and I have just booked airline tickets with South African Airways to visit Malawi next May. Leaving the UK on 18th May and flying to Blantyre in Southern Malawi and leaving from Lilongwe the Capital of Malawi in the Central Region on 2nd June. We will be accompanied by three friends - who have previously visited Malawi with us - and we will be joined by two Swiss friends in Johannesburg before we take our connecting flight to Blantyre. At the beginning of our stay we will be visiting Nansambo to meet with Stakeholders and review the work that will have been carried out before our visit. We cannot visit every year but the aim of visiting every two years is to ensure that money so generously given to the Nansambo School Fund is being used wisely and in a way that will provide maximum benefit. The Fund’s continued aim is to improve the conditions and the quality of education available to the 1200+ primary aged pupils of the Nansambo Community so these children can achieve their potential both within the education system and within their community and build a better future for themselves.
The Malawi higher national certificate [The Malawi Secondary School Examination] results have now been published – The government proudly announced that pass rates had increased this year to 61% [55% for girls and 67% for boys.] Our numbers of pupils may be small, but they account for 8% of all pupils at the secondary school, and once again all of the sponsored pupils who sat the exam, passed this national exam. This year we had one boy and two girls in Year 4 and we have increased the number of new sponsored pupils this and next Autumn from four to five pupils.
In addition to visiting the Nansambo and Balamanja Schools next year, we also plan to visit the Baptist Medical Centre and the Our Faith Orphan Care Primary School in the Salima District near Lake Malawi. We plan [Malawi internet + my little computer permitting] to send a further update while we are in Malawi and after we have visited the school so you will get the latest news there is - as soon as it is possible. In the meantime - John, Jane and I wish you a very happy Christmas holiday and a peaceful 2018.