Wells for Zoë Primary School Mentoring Programme
Four years ago in 2008 Mary started work in primary schools by (what we usually do) looking at where they were in terms of development. The initial observations certainly indicated a need for help. However we never look at problems; we just see whatever is there as an opportunity to move things along. In 2010 she gathered a group of young, enthusiastic teachers and hit a small rural school, just going into classrooms and working with the teachers where they were. The results were astounding and long lasting partnerships were formed.
In 2011 we hit the jackpot having stumbled across!! an outstanding young woman, Niamh O’Brien who again gathered an A team who descended on Mzuzu with a bang, fresh from a course on special needs education. Once again the Universe colluded to produce the most amazing four week training course with 200 teachers. The course was in August and when Mary visited the schools in November, and was invited or sometimes compelled to visit classrooms, it was apparent that this was a green light, for go situation: schools and teachers were adopting this for their professional development and excelling. We had gone past the tipping scale and critical mass had arrived They, were On-It and we needed an multi faceted approach between our guys and theirs.
Anna Schinga, (a soul mate of Mary’s for a number of years) the District Education Manager (DEM) met with Mary and the seeds were sown for an all systems go, high level approach, like training the trainers. Of course when you have Fiona, Noreen, Katie and Elaine on board you can just leave it to them to come up with a game plan, and the results were phenomenal.
This 2012 has brought a new plan for real and lasting development. Working with the DEM, the inspectorate, the School principals and the school mentors we had systems-planning, new methods absorbed into their methods, people relearning some of what they already knew, re-inventions of old stuff, hybridisations, taking the new on board as if they owned it forever and finally planning together for four weeks work for the start of the new term.
How’s that for an organisation that doesn’t even exist on anyone’s radar except our own!
The certainty that this will reach and impact in excess of 20,000 students in September and in to the new year, is not only a phenomenal achievement in its own right, but when you factor-in the fact that it has been achieved at no cost, except for a bit of transport, a few buns and cokes, by volunteers, on their Summer holidays, then it is stratospheric.
It might come under Literacy: The planning and Management of Learning when some bright young academic thesis sometime in the future will be great, but when coupled with the Ministry’s Read Malawi project, with books from JICA, which will impact the whole community is a real joy for us. Well done guys. You are certainly the A Team. Generations of Malawians will benefit because you cared.
Sad news, you’ve only just begun!!