Teachers now enjoy better working conditions in Mankhamba, Malawi, with a new, secure staff room to store books and have meetings. Improvements are part of the CLEAR II Project, funded and supported by the Elimination of Child Labour in Tobacco Growing (ECLT) Foundation.
The new facilities, opened this week, are part of infrastructural improvements, including teacher housing and water pumps, in the area aiming to help Mankhamba recruit more teachers and enrol more students in primary school.
“The old office was an inconvenience to the teachers to work in such a structure. Thanks to YONECO and Elimination of Child Labour in Tobacco Growing (ECLT) Foundation through the CLEAR Project for the support,” said District Commissioner James Manyetera as he officially handed over the staff room and teachers house in the formal ceremony.
Before the improvements, teachers used a mud and grass thatched hut as a staff room to keep books, grade student assignments and hold meetings. Without proper accommodation and facilities, the village struggled to recruit enough teachers and keep materials safe. Teachers had walked up to 4 kilometres carrying books and lesson plans.
Since work started at the beginning of 2018, requested enrolment for Mankhamba primary school has already increased by more than 30% and community members are contributing manpower and materials to build new classrooms, with the hope of offering another grade level. The school serves 350 students and qualified teachers are essential to their education.
Mankhamba village is located in a major tobacco-growing region, where the CLEAR project engages communities to promote education and fight the root causes of child labour. When children in farming communities cannot go to school, they are more likely to work in fields with their parents.
“We are determined to take children out of child labour. This is why we also call for improved teaching and learning conditions because the aim is to withdraw the minors from child labour and send them to school,” said Mkandawire, Executive Director of YONECO, one of the organisations implementing ECLT’s CLEAR project in Malawi.
Earlier this year, ECLT’s Executive Director, David Hammond, also came to Malawi to handover three teachers’ houses as part of other improvements made to Mankhamba Primary School. “What the Foundation delivers in the communities of Malawi defines our organisation as one which has genuine impact and changes lives. We are immensely proud to be able to drive advancement of new facilities in the Mankhamba community and provide key infrastructure to the educational leaders on whom the children rely, thereby keeping them out of the fields and in the classroom,” confirmed Hammond.
The CLEAR II Project is being implemented by a consortium of three partners: Total Land Care, CRECCOM and YONECO in three districts, Rumphi, Mchinji and Ntchisi. The ECLT Foundation has been working in Malawi since 2001, where it has invested over 20 million USD and reached over 190,000 children, farmers, families and other stakeholders in its fight against child labour in rural areas where tobacco is grown.