Having sent 72 pupils to various secondary schools, 35 teachers at Dzenje Primary School in Phalombe were handed a dozen of chickens by happy parents—and it was not for nothing.
The givers want everyone to know that they appreciate what the teachers in their midst have achieved in the examinations Malawi National Examination Board (Maneb) announced two weeks ago.
Maneb ranks Phalombe as the best performing district in the just released Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations.
What’s more, the thankful local communities presented the chickens, three loaves of bread, laundry soap, cooking oil and K52 000 to the school that has retained its top spot at district level.
Pupils once shunned the remote school in preference for those that had higher pass rates. Currently, it attracts children from the neighbouring districts of Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Zomba and Thyolo.
A collective effort
Head teacher Felix Ngalande thanks group village head (GVH) John for mobilising the gifts in recognition of the role teachers play in motivating pupils.
“The gifts may not be much to the well-off, but this is a great encouragement to the teachers,” he says. “It shows that community members appreciate what we are doing and they want to be part of the success story.”
This is the second time the teachers picked up the crowing presents and some add-ons.
“All five Standard Eight teachers picked up a rooster each for their outstanding contribution. We sold the remaining seven and other gifts so that each teacher can receive something. We believe success is a collective effort, so every teacher received K1 700,” he explains.
GVH John’s aides went door to door, collecting the gifts so that the teachers do not celebrate empty-handed their starring role, with 13 pupils selected to national secondary schools, 20 to Phalombe Secondary School and 39 to the neighbouring Ngozi Community Day Secondary School (CDSS). Last year, 19 pupils went to national secondary school, 17 to the district secondary school and 32 to the CDSS.
The feat puts Dzenje top of the pack in the PSLCE best performing district, with a 98 percent pass rate.
Recently, Maneb reported that out of 282 428 Standard Eight pupils who sat the national examination in May, 218 756 passed. This represents a 77.46 percent pass.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology William Susuwele Banda terms PSLCE “a barometer for gauging quality of teaching and learning in our primary schools”.
“That is to say, through these examination results, the education system is able to identify its strengths and weaknesses,” he said.
However, the examinations not taken by 15 600 registered candidates constitutes rite of passage to secondary school.
The absenteeism rate rose from five percent to 5.4 percent since last year.
However, parents of 3 320 pupils at Dzenje are utterly convinced with the rising pass rates.
They put together the presents to salute all 35 teachers at the rural school as only five out of 155 failed.
GVH John states: “Every family contributed what they could manage as a symbol of gratitude. The teachers come from different parts of the country, but they work extremely hard so that our children get quality education.
“If you visit the school at 6am, you will find teaching and learning in session. We want to encourage them not to relent in educating our children. They have done us proud and we appreciate their enthusiasm. A good turn deserves another.”
The traditional leader paid a tribute to a good relationship between the teachers and locals, saying high community involvement in education affairs has put the school on the rise.
District education manager Hendrix Likeke is equally impressed.
He saluted “dedicated teachers and cooperative community members” for putting the school, which won the 2018 MBC Innovation Award, on the rungs to greater success.
He said: “When learners pass with flying colours, this is our normal task. Of course the success story is not new to us. For the past four years, Phalombe has been in the PSLCE top three. We were number one last year, number three in 2017 and number one in 2016.”
“Being the number one district places a huge district on us. Teachers and parents must always remember their number one role: to make children succeed in their studies. Teachers have to be dedicated like their colleagues at Dzenje, who work during awkward hours to excel. Interestingly, community participation in that area is very high.
Likeke is optimistic that the congratulatory offerings from parents will motivate teachers at the rural school in Traditional Authority Kaduya.
He said: “I’m sure the teachers will continue to work hard and feel at home because the community really acknowledges their tireless efforts to improve the quality of education learners are getting.”