Addressing barriers to teaching and learning needs a holistic approach and is everyone’s responsibility.

With this in mind, between January and November 2022, the FutureLife-Now! Programme in Malawi ran Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) School Community Workshops in its 10 pilot schools. These were aimed at improving education outcomes by bringing together all key stakeholders (teachers and other educators, those in management structures, parents, community leaders, health workers, child protection workers, forestry assistants, agriculture officers, police officers) to develop their knowledge, capacity and commitment to addressing barriers to teaching and learning.

Schools are now reaping the fruits of these workshops. Umbwi Secondary in Dedza is one such school. Here are some of the initiatives that are bringing benefits to all its learners, including those experiencing barriers to learning.

Health workers have commenced conducting talks on topics such as HIV&AIDS and other aspects of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR); these have raised awareness and created demand for integrated SHRH, gender-based violence and HIV services, as well as strengthening the referral system between Umbwi Secondary and the Dedza District Hospital.

“The health talks have changed my life,” says Thokozani Alfred, the school’s head boy. “I now understand the SRHR package, its importance and how I can access the services. They have also cleared some myths and misconceptions about HIV&AIDS through provision of accurate information.”

Thokozani Alfred, head boy at Umbwi Secondary School

Another benefit of the strengthened linkages with health facilities has been the prevention of cholera. Malawi is presently experiencing a surge in cholera cases in all districts, but health workers have been instrumental in helping to prevent any cases at the school by providing learners with cholera-prevention messages and supplying chlorine and personal protective equipment.

Another initiative is that of the Forestry Department, where tree seedling production-skills are being taught to learners. An initiative such as this, Andrew Gaiton (a Form 3 learner at the school) believes, will contribute to mitigating the impacts of climate change as trees are carbon sinks and play a crucial role in reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He also hopes the initiative will result in the school planting more trees around the grounds.

Learners presenting during one of the CSTL School Community Workshops

The school has also strengthened its working relationship with the Dedza Police Station. Through the school outreach programme, the police have been conducting talks at the school on how the learners can be responsible citizens through being aware of laws, as well as on crime prevention.

The school’s headmaster summed up the potential benefits of the CSTL workshops.

“Addressing the barriers to teaching and learning needs a more structured approach with the involvement of key stakeholders. Through this workshop stakeholders have learnt that they have a key role to play in shaping the future of Umbwi Secondary School learners. We need this strong working relationship for the school to attain a status of CSTL school.” Bernard Bua (Headmaster)

It would appear that these relationships are now bearing fruit.

A nurse facilitating a health talk session at
the school



To subscribe to the FutureLife-Now! quarterly newsletter email
CSTL bears fruit in Malawi || Umbwi Secondary School reaps the reward of the CSTL School Community Workshops