Teaching at Zaone Primary School in Chiradzulu, Elizabeth Kenala, 41, could not help, but notice her colleague’s progress in her career.
Her colleague, who she met during training at Blantyre Teachers Training College (BTTC), had gone back to school and passed with flying colours.
When a call for special needs education training came, her friend applied and was selected. She is now at Maryview College undergoing three years’ training.
“I was envious. I had been with her from college and we were teaching together. I could tell she was moving up the ladder and that compelled me to go back to school,” she explains.
Kenala, who comes from Mtikhe Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nazombe in Phalombe, started weekend classes at Naizi Community Day Secondary School in September 2016.
She sat her Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) in July 2017 and scored 23 points.
“I was happy to have reduced my points. I previously scored 35 points, way too high compared to how students are performing these days,” says the mother of five.
Although she has no clue where she will source her fees from, Kenala has applied for a part time education course at the Catholic University of Malawi (Cunima).
“As a teacher, mother and a wife, I will go for weekend classes for a diploma and later a degree if I am accepted. Going for a full time course would deprive care for my children. Four of my children are still young, only the first born  is in boarding at Chiradzulu Secondary School,” she adds.
She notes that women shy away from returning to school thinking that education is for youngsters.
“There are people who have gone back to school after retirement. Education is for everyone and is not age restrictive,” she notes.
Jemima Mkwinda, 28, a mother of two from Malukula Village, T/A Chowe in Mangochi is following in Kenala’s footsteps.
Holder of a teaching certificate from Kasungu Teachers Training College and an advanced diploma in community development from the Polytechnic’s Continuing Education Centre, she still wants to do more.
“I want to go for mature entry at the University of Malawi (Unima), but my chances are getting slimmer every year with my 31 points. I want to re-sit MSCE to lower my points and increase my chances,” she said.
Mkwinda notes that in life, everyone needs sound finances from business or work.
“In business, you win or lose and that is why a combination of work and business is ideal. Women often say they will get married and depend on their husbands, but sometimes marriages end or husbands die. I am a divorced mother of two and have to raise fees for me and my children. It is not easy,” she says, advising that today’s decisions matter in future.
Allen Chauluka, who has been teaching since 1994 says: “I had three credits at first; I went back and got six. I am now in first year at Millennium University pursuing a degree in education. I want to teach in secondary school and be a role model for female students.”
She advises women not to look down on themselves.
“Life is tough and competitive. We should always strive to do more,” she says. n