2016 - Development of the Malawi Early Literacy Team

The following M.E.L.T. work was included in the 2016 trip:

Government Approval: I am happy to say the government is working on a Common Core Curriculum for Standard One. They have shuffled the order of the Chicherwa alphabet, and are teaching Standard One first in Chicherwa then in English. The government does NOT want foreign groups coming in and teaching in any schools without prior approval. They want to have control and are striving to take responsibility for their learners. Reality: very limited funds, minimal resources. We spent days in meetings, sharing material samples, writing an overview, and more meetings. Attached is the end result, Approval of Early Grade Supplemental Literacy Materials from the Secretary for Education, Science, and Technology for Malawi! This letter was a very important step!

Teacher Meetings: We met with the Standard One and Two teachers at Chivumu Primary; this school was built by First Presbyterian Church. We also met with four teachers each who represent a school Keys to Ed did three years of work with. The schools represented were: Kaningina, Monsanto, Mbowe, and Chibwaka. Listed below are their major points:

  1. 1. Anna, from Mbowe Primary, said: "the [teaching] program prepared us, made us the confident ones, at a recent training on alphabet work, phonics, and phonemic awareness. We were the top teachers there because of your program. Please continue with us."
  2. 2. Every teacher after reviewing the draft of the M.E.L.T alphabet knowledge kit endorse the critical need for this kit as well as training in its use.
  3. 3. Every teacher requested a library to borrow from rich in early literacy readers, written in English, to supplement their program. If in fact, the national Standard One curriculum reaches its way up to the Northern Region it still means only one book per student.
  4. 4. Teachers like the idea of re-printing a few titles in Chichewa but told us to concentrate on English.
  5. 5. Library site and Book Mobile were both discussed. The teachers encourage both if possible, maybe begin with storage and Book Mobile.
  6. 6. Teacher training and modeling the use of any new materials is critical.

Mzuzu University: We met one evening with Rochelle and Tyler Holmes, and Gift Dube the Director of the Children's Library at Mzuzu University. Gift informed us that the government just notified him that he needs to have a Kindergarten Curriculum in place. He is working to design this and we discussed the possibility of working together on this project. The following day we spent two hours at his library on campus. We have agreed to publish the books both he and Rochelle have written, Standard Three, Four, if we achieve the funding. They have been frustrated trying to find a way to publish and appreciate the idea of us teaming up. This will also provide our library with higher level readers.

Vehicles: We researched a used fire truck for sale that had a lot of potential uses. Sam decided this truck is too large to travel to our rural schools, can't even cross the bridges. We looked into used Toyota Land Cruisers. This is the first choice for a Book Mobile. Library Sites- We looked at many sites Mbowe (too far out), a new building in Mzuzu (too expensive), a small empty building at a closed yogurt factory (definite possibility). We also explored the option of renting a room from Sam and Grace once they move into their new home; that should be ready in 18 months.

Birthday Offering Grant: We reviewed this grant application and had many discussions with Sam and Grace regarding the potential to help the teachers and students in the Northern Region of Malawi. It is our goal to have the application in before the May 2017 deadline.

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  • Heather White
  • Carol Stevens