Tadala Sempani, 21, stands proudly at Chinamvuu Secondary School ground with a group of children who have just received scholarships from the Secondary Education Trust Fund. Her face is wearing a massive smile. It is a day to remember for her. Just a couple of months ago she thought her chances of continuing her secondary education were over.
Whistles, bustles, singing, and dancing. This was the atmosphere at Nankhali Primary School on 29th March 2019 when learners saw a truck loaded with desks arriving at the school. The primary school is located in rural Lilongwe. An area where many households struggle to make ends meet. The school itself had been disadvantaged for a very long time. It only had five classrooms for a population of nearly 2000 students. The classrooms were run down, with many learners sitting on the floor during lessons, with about 750 children having lessons outside.
Nestled in the lush, emerald hills of central Rwanda, Rubingo School boasts large, open playgrounds and bright classrooms. During the day, the surrounding village is quiet, and the school grounds deserted. The children of the community are all occupied with their studies, and cannot be found wandering around.
Praisewell has been living with his uncle since 2016. Before that, he lived at Village of Hope children’s home. His mother died soon after giving birth to him and he lived at the home from the age of six months to seven years, when the organisation began reintegrating children to their extended families.
During her time at the orphanage, Maria Vasco would cry for no apparent reason. The toddler was so miserable, some even considered her troublesome.“When visitors came she would cry all day because people would play with the younger children and not bother with Maria,” says Rex Mbewe, the orphanage matron.
Having a secondary school bursary is something that most girls in Malawi dream of. In a country where poverty rates are high, many girls fail to finish secondary school. Ellen Rajab, who studies at Mpondasi Community Day Secondary School, is one of the lucky ones. She is a confident, outgoing girl. As she sits on the white sandy beach by the side of Lake Malawi on a sunny afternoon, she enthusiastically explains how far she has come.
It’s a cold day in Shandong, China. The skies are grey and the grass is far from green. Dressed in a heavy pink winter coat, Sarah Mvula walks through university campus on the way to her dormitory. She is a prospective medical student at Shandong University. It is a dream come true for her.
The sprawling campus of Chancellor College is on the edge of Malawi’s former capital city. It is only 120 kms from the villages of Mangochi, but it feels like a world away. Tiffany Kapanda, 18, is a former UNICEF scholar from Mangochi, now studying at Chancellor College.
Chimwemwe Phiri, 12, loves to read. But because her school doesn’t have a library, she has to walk for two hours to reach the nearest library where she studies and borrows books. Her school doesn’t have enough classrooms either so many of the children take their lessons outside.
Funo Langa is a fundraising campaign for the Girls Secondary Education Trust Fund. It was set up to provide access to quality education for vulnerable students in Malawi, particularly girls. The Trust brings together existing scholarship schemes run by different organisations, including UNICEF, and will mobilize additional financial and technical resources to help academically successful students from poor backgrounds finish their secondary education.