Five girls from secondary schools in Zomba were all smiles as they boarded the plane to the United States of America for a three-week educational exchange under the Pan-African Youth Leadership Programme (PAYLP).
The programme is funded by the US Government to give participants a unique educational exchange experience, according to the US Embassy public affairs officer, Edward Monster.
“PAYLP works to promote mutual understanding and strengthen the connections between the people of the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. It has created an impressive alumni base for young African leaders who continue to impact their communities. It provides leadership training, cultural excursions and classroom instruction to talented and dedicated high school students aged between the ages of 15-18,” he says.
The programme is implemented by Meridian International Centre and has partnered with two institutes of higher education in the US to create a programme focused on social entrepreneurship and civic responsibility.
The institutions are Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and the University of Texas in Austin.
“Each institute will provide opportunities for academic study, service learning, field trips, site visits, community service, leadership training, conflict resolution training, and cultural exchanges,” said Monster.
This year’s Malawian participants include Ivy Namaranya from Pirimiti Community Day Secondary School (CDSS); Sheila M’bawa from Chilunga CDSS; Caroline Samu from Ulongwe CDSS; Esther Chosalana from St Charles Lwanwa CDSS and Tawina Chaposa from Mulunguzi Secondary School. There is also Angelesa Limbe, a teacher from St Louis Montfort CDSS.
Since 2014, 14 Malawians have participated in PAYLP. The programme has been strengthening the students’ understanding of civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and the importance of community engagement.