Malawi Colleges Celebrate New Graduates

DNS teacher-training colleges in Malawi operated by DAPP Malawi recently graduated 167 new primary school teachers. The teachers graduated from colleges located at Amalika and Mzimba and had been in training since 2014.

The excitement was palpable and ceremonies held at both schools, and the new graduates looked forward to beginning their careers. "We are so eager to teach in the rural areas," said Gertrude, one of the graduates at Amalika. "We will be agents of change in the communities where we are going to teach."

A Dearth of Qualified Teachers

Malawi is in urgent need of primary school teachers. According to UNESCO, student-teacher ratios are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, with only one teacher on average for a class of 70 students.

While more teachers need to be trained and qualified, on the brighter side, the recruitment of female teachers is making steady progress; today, approximately 40% of teachers are women (in the past very few teachers were women).

The DNS colleges prepare students to rise to the demands of a challenging teaching career in several ways. Students are immersed in academic subjects, such as math, science, and history, but they also learn much more. They learn how to recognize and assess the indivdual needs of each student and their situations, and take these needs into account when leading their classrooms.

Experience is an essential part of the program, and student teaching begins at the start of the program in nearby primary schools. 

The beginning teachers are also encouraged to become active participants in the community in which their school is located, learning about local challenges (such as the need to address HIV prevention) and understanding how they can help overcome them.

Godfrey Kumbwese, District Education Manager for Thyolo District, spoke at the ceremony of how important the new teachers have been to making a difference in the lives of students and the communities: "Their classrooms talk of volumes of what they do with their learners, the school surroundings wear new and better looks, and the liveliness that lack in many schools is present where DAPP teachers are."

The Road Ahead

The new teachers face many challenges ahead in their careers. Malawi has few resources and teachers must know how to improvise in order to lead their pupils to success. Fortunately, the program has prepared them for the challenges ahead, including extensive training in producing instructional materials from everyday materials (a technique that goes by the acronym TALULAR).

New graduates also receive ongoing support after they begin employment through regular seminars at the colleges. During these seminars they can discuss the challenges they have faced and how they are trying to overcome them, and receive feedback and input from their peers.

Planet Aid is a long-time supporter of teacher training in Malawi. We congratulate this latest cohort of new graduates and wish them well in their future career.