Dear Esteem Readers,

Welcome to October 2023 and we hope you are well and will be enjoying the newsletter. We, at YONECO, are excited that you are with us, and we are there for you.

 We begin this column by reflecting on the fact that mid-September 2023, The Malawi National Examination Board released the results of the Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations. One striking feature that came out was the performance of some schools and it was all over social media that we had the Catholic managed schools as being best performers of course not forgetting Maranatha. At YONECO we felt that this was a critical component of the programme that we need to think about. We need to ask some serious questions around “what is it that is common for these schools? What are they doing that other schools are not doing? What lessons can we draw from these schools?”. One commentator said in these schools’ discipline is paramount. Is there anything that we could do to enhance discipline in these other schools? In one of the newsletters this year we tackled this, and we need to revisit it. Then the last page of the statement from MANEB highlights that we have schools with zero pass rate. One wonders if we have zero pass rate. It’s sad that after four years of schooling, we now have individuals with no qualifications. Again, we have seen insults to the teachers ranging from quality of teachers to teachers’ behaviours. However, it would be important to reflect on the issue with sober minds by asking “what these schools have in common? Did they have enough resources? What about quality control in the schools and the education sector as a whole? Do we place the whole issue on the teachers and students? Were parents interested in monitoring the performance of the children? We therefore need some serious soul searching for schools that are performing badly. Our advice on the matter is that let us join hands to improve the quality of education in Malawi.

While still on education, YONECO is one of the Implementation Support Partners (ISP) for the Building Education Foundations through Innovation and Technology (BEFIT) programme in Malawi. We applaud the government for such an innovation, and we are very excited. Children continue to be excited and motivated with the innovation. However, some serious issues are emerging. Teacher availability in schools is a very serious issue. We have schools where Standard 1 to 8 only has 4 teachers which means 2 classes per teacher. Do we expect such teachers to perform? We therefore ask the government to consider the allocation of the teachers to the schools in order for us to build the education foundations we claim to push for.

We could not finish the education aspect without reflecting on the incident at Robert Blake Secondary School where school violence led to the burning of the school. As we reflected in one of the newsletters, school violence is becoming the norm, and we all have to come together to curb and tame the vice. Replacing the lost property will be expensive and students from this school may have to stay out of school for long periods of time. Parents, teachers and students are called upon to know that school violence is not a solution. We need serious soul-searching exercise to understand where we are getting it wrong for school vandalism as a tool to resolving conflicts. We need to begin engaging in peace building initiatives. We also need the create drug free schools.

Finally, we say Happy Mother’s Day in this month of October 2023


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