“I look at the learners I work with as brothers and sisters. In the end they trust me with their day-to-day ideas and challenges,” says Precious Kasangu, a youth facilitator based at Mponera Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Dowa district. The school is one of 10 pilot schools participating in the FutureLife-Now! Programme.
To ensure that pertinent issues facing young people in schools are comprehensively addressed, the programme enlisted 10 youth facilitators to work with the pilot schools and form a link between learners on the one side, and educators, healthcare providers and parents on the other. Kasangu is one of these facilitators.
He says that young people feel appreciated and understood when fellow young people attend to their problems rather than channelling their daily issues to teachers and parents. With the latter, they often feel disempowered or judged when seeking assistance.
“As a young person myself, learners are comfortable approaching me and raising their issues in a confidential manner. Depending on the issue presented, we sit together and try to brainstorm possible solutions. In the event that the issue needs higher level engagement, we look at which office to present it to and how we can do it.”
A form three learner at the school, Linda Moyo, appreciates the role youth facilitators play in ensuring that students forge a better future. “When we fall sick or we want certain services at Mponera rural hospital, Precious helps us by escorting us to the hospital. The beauty of it is we get prioritized at the hospital.”
Donald Damaso, Mponera CDSS principal, hailed the role of the youth facilitator, which he says has greatly changed the behaviour among learners and has also ignited their interest in education.
“Students now have fun when they are at school and this has raised their spirits. This has also led to improvement in teacher-student relationships.”
He jubilantly heaps praise on Kasangu. “On top of facilitating the distribution of COVID-19 PPEs, our youth facilitator goes a mile further by ensuring that everyone adheres to the prevention measures outlined by the Ministry of Health.”
He adds that in this era of ravaging COVID-19 “MIET AFRICA has been a partner worthy celebrating”. The FutureLife-Now! Programme receives technical assistance from MIET AFRICA, made possible through support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Mponera CDSS, like the other nine FutureLife-Now! pilot schools, benefited from the assistance of the FutureLife-Now! Programme that included food parcel distribution to vulnerable students; solar power installation; the establishment of an e-learning platform; the provision of youth journals; pens; and other forms of support.
It was a direct result of these interventions that the school was selected as the first to be visited by the Minister of Education, the Honourable Agness Nyalonje, on her inspection tour to see how prepared schools were to write the Malawi School Certificate of Education. A great honour indeed!