A new and exciting project has been given the go ahead to start at Matandani! Through my work with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), I have been able to build my very own version of a mobile solar powered projector! This little invention has caused quite a stir in VSO and anyone who I’ve shown. With the advance of technology, I have been able to use a projector that is powerful enough to run off a battery but bright enough to be used in a typical Malawian classroom. It also has a lithium battery which has greatly reduced the weight of the overall projector box and it even has an amplifier with powerful, loud speakers! Whats particularly great is that its assembled in Malawi and the box is custom made here!
Check it out below. I’ve nicknamed it the “Mbidzi” – the Zebra in Chichewa!
With this new invention along with an iPad, we are hoping to use a different version of the onebillion “onecourse” app that the children currently use on the iPads, so that the teacher can choose the topic to teach and use this great software in the classroom. With the “onecourse” software now including Maths and Chichewa, I know it will become a hugely useful tool for the teachers here in Malawi to use everyday. I have also teamed up with the CharChar Trust, who are an organisation who have developed a range of resources to help in teaching phonics and reading in English. They have produced a chest of graded books with African themes and they have allowed us to add all these books to the teachers iPad for use with the projector– including the first Chichewa-English primary school dictionary. Imagine now the chance of story time with the children with a book that can be projected big enough for all 100+ children in the class to see!
Along with these developments, part of this pilot project will be the deploying of two teachers who have been recently trained from Emmanuel Teacher Training College in Lilongwe! Through the BtG initiative (Bridge the Gap), these qualified teachers who would be otherwise waiting for up to a year or two to be posted/employed by the government, will have the chance to work at Matandani and get specific training from VSO (me) training them on the best practice of using the projectors in the class and also from CharChar on using their resources to get the best results with the children.
The two teachers have arrived at Matandani and settled in to life in Standard 3. We have Mervin in Std 3 A teaching alongside Mr. M. Daluni, and we have Lucius in Std 3 B teaching alongside Ms. F. Khonsolo. They will get use of the solar projector in their classrooms to teach Maths, English and Chichewa to begin with, alongside all the fabulous resources from the CharChar Trust! We hope to make these two classrooms the Demo classes on how to teach with a projector aswell as teach English using phonics with the help of the CharChar resources.
This is the very first time this has been trialled in any Malawian school. With VSO/onebillion teaming up with CharChar and BtG, we think this will be make a huge impact at Matandani! When this proves to be a success, we could add this to all of the current VSO “Unlocking Talent” project with the iPads which is now up to 110 schools across the country!
I have always hoped for Matandani to be a place where new teaching and learning pilot projects are trialed and that one day it could become a demo school for how all Malawi government schools could be like with some investment and guidance! I think we are achieving another step towards this idea!