For the first time in Matandani’s history, the plan to have student teachers from the nearby Machinga Teachers Training College has finally been realised. In October, 6 student teachers came to stay at Matandani, living together in one big house very close to the school. They have made a hugely positive impact at the school already in the short time they have been here. They work in pairs, taking their very own class of between 60-70 children.
On the 22nd of November I was invited to attend a very special school event – A Day of Drama: with the topic “No More Dropouts”. It was a really positive event with involvement from the children, the teachers and the parents. There were well rehearsed sketches, poems and lots of singing and dancing. Some of the teachers got in on the drama also!
There were a couple of special guests to talk to the children also!
Mr Sande – a policeman from nearby Machinga, is one of the best athletes that Malawi currently has. He has also built a running track with a football and netball pitch inside, by himself over the last 7 years! He even got nominated for a very prestigious award called the the MBC innovations awards ( certificate & medal ) for the voluntary job he has been doing there! He gave some encouraging words to the learners to mix sports with a good education and it will take them far! Mr. Sande has also agreed to help us at Matandani to build our very own running track around the football pitch. We have just started by clearing the ground for the 100m track!
Another very special guest was the friend of one of our teachers- Patrick Msusa! We already know that Patrick is one of the star players for the local Matandani football team, but what we didn’t know was that his mate Dennis Chembezi, plays for the Malawi national team! He used to be a centre back for The Wizards FC in Blantyre but he has just been snapped up by the current champions of Malawi – The Nomads! He will be playing the equivalent of the champions league in Africa this year and has already been capped for the national team. Not bad for being just 20! It was really great to have him give some encouraging words to the children and to talk about his experiences and opportunities that he has had because of sport and a good education- like travelling around Africa!
A lot of work has been done on the school grounds at Matandani. Firstly, a new fence has been put up around the trees, water tap and the map of Malawi. This has allowed the grass to grow and the trees to have a spurt of growth!
We have also decided to put a hedge and fence around the netball court. Our grounds man has done a great job of preparing the ground and caring for the hedges and it will look great when it has grown into a proper hedge.
Finally, the football pitch has been finally finished! The brand new metal goalposts have been installed! With the help of Simon and Olivia, (travelling friends who came to stay with me for a week or two) we marked out the measurements of the standard sized football pitch and installed old tyres around the edges of the pitch to show the corner flag, half way line etc! Its been a huge hit in the community, with weekly matches now taking place with as many as 500+ people coming to watch! With the rainy season now starting, the planting of grass on the last patches of the pitch can be done… and already the grass is growing so fast!
The new block is finally completely finished! Over the last two months, we have been opening each of the rooms as they were finished, but this week we have now got both of the new classrooms occupied! Since these are the biggest two classrooms in the school, the school have decided to put the current Standard 7 and 8 in there. These classes have become the biggest the school has ever soon with both over the 100 mark. It is a great sign that the improvements to teaching and learning throughout the school are being seen in these senior classes! Thanks to all the donations from last year, we have also been able to make tables and benches for the Standard 8 so that each child has got their own space for sitting and writing. Previously they were squashed into a small classroom with no tables so writing had to be done on their knees! With donations from The Downs Melvin primary school, we are hoping to put tables just like these into Standard 7 also! The added bonus to doing this is that the chairs that these children were using can then be used by standard 4,5 & 6! We are currently building the last benches that are needed so that no child has to sit on the floor anymore in Standard 1,2 & 3 at Matandani! A huge achievement! Pictures of the inside will come next week when the learners are back! 🙂
The classroom situation currently at Matandani is now 12 classrooms + an iPad learning room (from only 8 when we first started!) The school have currently split standard 1,2,3,4,5 & 6! This means that there are still two classes been taught under the trees-Std 4 & 5! This is far from ideal, especially now as we are in rainy season! The wish is to build two more classrooms – or shelters at least for these classes within the next year!