The Republic of Malawi [formerly British Nyasaland] is a democratic, densely populated country of over fifteen million people located in southeastern Africa. It borders Zambia to the north-west, Tanzania to the north, and Mozambique surrounding it on the east, south, and west. Malawi is 530 miles long and at its widest point 160 miles wide. Lake Malawi accounts for twenty per cent of the country’s territory and is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.
United Nation statistics show that Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It suffers from limited natural resources, environmental degradation and from the devastating affects of the AIDS epidemic which has already caused over 650,000 deaths and has left 1 million orphans. AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adults in Malawi, and is a major factor in the country’s low life expectancy which is still only 50 years according to latest figures . Over 45% of the population is aged 14 years or younger.
On the positive side Malawi has a functioning democracy, a tradition of peace and is known internationally as "The Warm Heart Of Africa."
NANSAMBO PRIMARY SCHOOL
Most children start formal education at primary school between five and six years of age but many are older than this. Primary school education takes a minimum of 8 years to complete. Many pupils are sixteen years of age on completion of this stage of their education when they sit the Primary School Leaving Certificate examinations. Students have to pass this examination and get selected if they are to attend secondary school education in a government secondary school.
The introduction of compulsory Free Primary Education in Malawi has seen a large increase in the number of pupils going to primary school but this increase in access has also brought major infrastructure problems and a big decline in quality. This decline has been brought about by a variety of factors: Class sizes have increased, there is a national shortage of qualified teachers and insufficient government resource funding is available for even basic education provision for all pupils.
The Nansambo Primary School is a church founded school now funded by the Malawi Government. However since the introduction of free primary education the number of children attending school in Southern Malawi has risen nearly 40 percent.
Current Situation at Nansambo Primary School
In May 2011, approximately 1200 children between the ages of 6 and 17 were registered on the primary school role at Nansambo but the six year olds accounted for the largest of the eight year groups and totalled over 200 children. Approximately one quarter of the pupils are orphans – with aids and malaria being the main causes. The school has a staff of seven teachers, and this includes the Headmaster who has a full time teaching commitment. There is a bare minimum of educational provision except for the oldest pupils who do have provision of paper and books however they have to be shared between pupils.
In 2007 there were nine classrooms, all in an extremely poor condition. Holes in the walls, no fitted windows or doors, no electricity, no exercise books, no pencils. No desks or chairs – not even for the teachers. The children sat on the floor which is part concrete and part earth to be taught and learn parrot fashion – by repetition. The chronic lack of basic school materials in Nansambo, and in Malawi as a whole, is a serious factor in preventing the children from learning effectively. The biggest challenges facing the school are the pressures on inadequate classroom facilities, insufficient teachers and inadequate supply of instructional materials.