Under a shady tree in rural Malawi sits 60 plus eager students ready to learn from their overwhelmed teacher. Without proper desks or school supplies to learn with, the teacher and students both make due with what they have. While it is difficult to learn without a school building, the students are still grateful to have the chance to learn at all. However, the overcrowding and competition of 60 or more classmate creates students who fall through the cracks and cannot keep up. They genuinely want to learn, but the one teacher cannot simply provide focused one on one attention for each of the students.
Primary education was declared to be free for all students by the Ministry of Education in Malawi in 1994 (Starfish Malawi). Although primary education is now more accessible, there have been some strenuous challenges like the scenario mentioned above that involves both a lack of infrastructure and also high teacher to student ratios. While many of our students come from more urban areas, the issue of overcrowding is still a very real problem that causes many children to drop out of school and enter into a life on the streets. Many of our students come from the district of Mbayani in Blantyre that is home to more than 10,000 children, certainly a perfect display of overcrowding in the classrooms. In addition to overcrowding in schools, the students must be able to afford a school uniform, shoes, and school supplies, which is often unattainable for many households.
With these variables among many others, it is understandable yet painfully shocking that according to Ripple Africa, only 7% of Malawi’s students complete secondary school each year. In order for a student to be accepted into secondary school (high school), they must take the Primary School Leaving Certificate exam which covers subjects like English, Chichewa, life skills, math, social studies, Biblical knowledge, and expressive arts.
Secondary schools differ in that the student does not necessarily have a choice as to which school they will attend. The government selects the school based upon the student’s exam results. According to a nonprofit called Starfish Malawi, in 2013, 68% of students who took the exam passed. Being selected for secondary school is a high honor and is a dream of many students. Unfortunately, being accepted does not automatically guarantee the student will actually be able to attend. Firstly, the fees for secondary school are heavily burdensome on the family. While primary school is free, secondary school is most definitely not. Also, because secondary schools are more rare and are not directly chosen by the student, they may be forced to walk a great number of miles to reach school, which cuts down on study time.
Agape Scholar students will be taking their exiting exams to enter secondary school May 17th-19th. We pray for their success in their exams. However, we acknowledge that our student’s challenges do not end once they pass this test. There are many mountains that must be overcome in order for them to complete high school.
Will you help our students increase the percentage of Malawians who complete secondary school by sponsoring a student?
Check out our website at http://www.agapescholars.org in order to make a donation, or simply commit to surrounding a student in prayer.
With the support of others, we believe that the lives of our students can be transformed from lives spent on the street to highly educated people who can have a lasting impact on the country of Malawi for the glory of God.