Another Classroom Building Complete

I recently returned from another trip to Malawi. I saw, with great anticipation, progress on our Village Schoolhouse Project. The school is located in Gadi Village, and I’m photographed here with Chiefs Mwape and Gadi. Equitas has a strong relationship with these two villages, going back nearly 10 years, as well as local and federal government leaders. The schoolhouse is a co-effort between the village, the Malawi government, and Equitas.

Last September, the initial phase of the Village Schoolhouse Project was completed. 1st and 2nd graders began attending school (read the update). Pictured at the top of this page is the brand new 3rd and 4th grade building, completed just last month! 21 villages are now using the school and, at last count, 354 students were enrolled. Many of these students haven’t been able to attend school for many years, if ever.

Prior to the schoolhouse being built, the nearest school for these village children was about five miles away. The walk can be extremely dangerous with poisonous snakes, and hyenas in the rainy season that hide in tall grass. Many parents wouldn’t allow young students to go to school, making them wait until they were older. Some of the 1st grade students I met on this visit were already 10 years old or even older. They had delayed school because of the dangers of the walk, but now are able to attend because there is a schoolhouse so close.

Here’s a peek inside the 1st grade classroom.

The next project we are tackling is the construction of housing for two teachers. This phase of the project should be complete in about two months. The first two houses are for the principal and deputy principal. Other teachers rent houses close to the school. This is a traditional Malawi school configuration. Having the teachers and their families live on school grounds statistically improves student performance, and also provides security.

We also plan to continue construction on classroom buildings up through the 8th grade. On this trip, I met many 4th graders who had previously been walking five miles to the nearest school and were so excited about this new school so close by. I just can’t force them to go back to walking five miles now that they’re in 5th grade, and I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening. Will you partner with me?

Steve Cook
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