By Letitica Nangwale, UNICEF Malawi
Waking up each morning and looking forward to complete the days chores on a cold Monday morning, has always been one of the things Edward always looked forward to every school week. Putting up the fire to boil water for his four siblings – as the first born, Edward has always made sure they are well taken care of before he starts off for the day.
Walking on the dusty road to Mdeka Community Day Secondary School in the wee hours of the morning, Edward has always made sure that he is on time to attend his class session which starts at 7:30am. As school rules demand, students have to ensure they meet their obligations to ensure that they pursue their studies, with the hope of becoming exemplary personalities that have been through the corridors Mdeka CDSS.
When the moment comes that the headteacher is chasing students away for not paying school fees- Edward would always be on the “wanted” list. He would sadly carry his books and walk out of class together with the other students.
“It’s really embarrassing when you are chased out of class because you haven’t paid your school fees, above all what did hurt the most was the fact that I would be missing out on lessons and by the time I return my friends have moved greatly” says Edward.
Once chased out of class Edward would find himself loitering around the school trying to figure out a way of finding his way back into the class room. “I would peep through the window making sure the teacher cannot see me, and once the teacher is out I would sneak back in class- find a corner where I would hardly be noticed and stay unusually quiet throughout the class sessions”, says Edward Issa a 17 year old student currently in from 2 at Mdeka CDSS.
This pattern did not only affect Edward psychologically but also academically – from being among the top 20 students in class Edwards performance gradually dropped. A point came when the tricks didn’t work anymore and Edward was sent back home in the final term for his form 1. Life became gloomy as he was back to working in the field everyday with his parents.
When his friends returned home after school, Edward would check on them to look at their books on what has been covered in his absence. Till one beautiful Wednesday evening, Edward received word from his friend that the head teacher would like to meet him first thing on Thursday at school together with his parents. He was so anxious and very nervous to hear what news was, hoping he wasn’t in trouble. At the dawn of the beautiful Wednesday morning, Edward was up and early- got his morning chores out of the way on time and was eager to go to school with his mother.
“My mother repeatedly told me that she hopes I am not in trouble, as that will not go down too well with her”, said Edward. At 7:00am sharp they were by the headmasters’ office waiting patiently. To Edwards amusement it was good news- he had been selected to be part of a scholarship programme for the Secondary Education Trust with funds raised through the Funo Langa campaign.
“I really felt like it was a dream and didn’t believe what my ears were hearing. My instant reaction was to hug my mother and she was filled with joy and tears rolled down her cheeks in delight”, narrates Edward. The instant thought that ran through Edwards mind was that, this means a huge turn over in his life and that of his family.
“My father is a builder and my mother doesn’t work at all- I see how they struggle to make ends meet just to feed and dress me and my siblings”, says Edwards whose dream is to become a renowned journalist hailing from Makoka village, T/A Chigalu, Blantyre.
“I want to be popular and that people will know my village through me – Edward the journalist”- smile Edward in delight. The reasons why Edward has so much passion for journalism is he feels journalists have the platform to express issues on behalf of others and that will help in him being a mouth piece for his community. Edwards favorite subjects are English and History. He is currently in Form 2 and looks forward to form 3 which is only a year away to finalizing secondary school.
UNICEF Malawi’s Support
In 2018 the Ministry of Education launched a Secondary Education Trust Fund which aims at pooling resources together for the support of vulnerable secondary school students to aid them purse their Secondary Education. UNICEF Malawi is supporting the Trust fund through a fundraising campaign called Funo Langa (My wish). The campaign aims at raising funds from Malawians to support their own Malawian children purse their dreams of attaining an education. The support goes towards their school needs school uniforms, stationery supplies and sanitary needs for girls.
“Malawi is a developing country and over half the population are children, so they are the future of this country,” UNICEF Chief of Education Kimanzi Muthengi says. “It is great to see the 25 students being given the chance to continue their education. We hope that more donations can be made to the Secondary Education Trust to ensure that more vulnerable children will have an opportunity to attain their secondary education.”