In almost every village in Kasungu district one will bump into a school dropout – both boys and girls. They are too easy to find.
Despite Join My Village providing the reference materials to some of the primary schools that would allow students to gain more knowledge through reading and providing scholarships to some girls in secondary school, it is sad to see the girls and boys dropping out of school. Students who drop out slow down the education process for all which is an important tool to end global poverty and create opportunities for all Malawians.
However, as much as Join My village is working to promote education, it takes community action too – mothers who are taking a leading role and helping Join My Village to improve children’s school attendance and performance.
Driven by one common interest, women around Lingadzi Primary school formed a mother group which is aimed at bringing children who have dropped out back to the school. “We know that education is the one of the most important tools that can take us all out of poverty. A community with educated people, no matter the percentage, is likely to make sound decisions that will benefit even the country,” said Mrs. Modester Kalukusha who is also the group chairlady.
This mother group which was formed in January, 2012 has already managed to convince 17 boys and girls to go back to school.
The secretary for the group said, “Our main interest is in school dropouts that include teen mothers, boys and girls from poor families and those that were forced by either the environment both at home or school. We usually negotiate with both the student and the parents to find out the reasons for the action.”
She further indicated, “Some parents do not give us a warm welcome but instead they tell us to do this with our own children. They ask us if at all one of our children is educated to which our simple answer is that as mothers, every child belongs to us and so we can’t be jealous with other people’s children because all we need is a community with educated people.”
Esther Phiri, a grade 8 dropout who spent two years at home, is proud of the Lingadzi Mother Group. According to her, it is out of frustration after failing to make it to secondary school after sitting for the entrance examination twice that made her give up and stay at home. She is one of the girls who decided to go back to school and try again, with the support of the Lingadzi Mother’s Group. The group also engages itself in piece works to help source school materials for those students who dropped because of lack of school necessities like uniform, books and writing materials.
A Mother group is comprised of 10 women, a village head, a head teacher for the school and two members each from Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and School Management Committee (SMC). The four makes the total to 14. The last four members are involved because they facilitate in reducing the gap between team players.
God cannot be present everywhere and so there is Join My Village. We cannot meet all the challenges but always give support and open new ways of thinking with our community. The mothers who formed Lingadzi Mother Group are able to achieve because they are united.