Secondary School Lupaso
The image above shows Florence catching up with WfZ girls coordinator Mr. Nkosa, in Lupaso.
My day of “firsts”. For the first time I drive in Malawi and on the left side. Furthermore I visited the girls in secondary school for the first time. I woke up so excited for that appointment. And when Florence gave me the keys of the car – wow! 😛 – Driving on the left side, you have to be even more careful than usual, because you are not used to it. At least two times we were crossing a street with the windscreen wipers on, instead of the turn signal… In my car I used to have them on the right side of the steering wheel. Why do I explain my funny driving “problems”? At the beginning it seems to be difficult to get out of a routine behaviour, like using the left hand to change the gears… but I think that if you have some knowledge and more importantly the willpower to manage a new situation, there is nothing to worry about, that’s why it is important to do the effort and work hard ’til the end.
Secondary School in Lupaso has just 4 classes, one for each level (Form 1,2,3,4). There are around 250 students in total, 12 of them helped WfZ. Walking to school takes 15 mins for some of them, but the longest walk is 80 minutes. Imagine at what time that girl has to wake up to be on time when classes start at 7.30h.
We were there to encourage them to study harder before their exams. Having a final exam should be like any other test, if you have studied enough it doesn’t matter what is asked, you will manage it. Some of the girls are in the Form 4, that means that in two weeks they have one of the most important exams in secondary, because if they have a good mark they will have a better chance to study what they want. WfZ wants the best for the girls, that’s why normally they come to the office on Saturday and take extra classes of topics that their school didn’t cover in time which are important for the exam.
What if you don’t pass form 4?
The final exam is not only about passing, what you need is the maximal points you can achieve. Between 6 and 30 you can go to the University, with 6 being the best grade and 42 the worst. If you pass with very good grades some organisations fund you private courses and maybe you can also find work with them. Generally there is the chance to take private courses which are approx. 2 times expensive as the government ones. Another option is do open school that consists in studying for the form 4 again and trying to get better grades. In this case, the classes are in the evening because of the range of age. There are a lot of people with different ages, everybody can study again. The bad thing is that the fees will be higher because you have to pay the teachers working in evening times, which is more expensive. It would be 13,500 kw (16€) per month at open school, instead of the normal secondary prices 9,750 kw (11€). That is a lot if you take in mind that the wages are around 40,000 kw (47€) per month.
Of course not a lot of people can afford to study again. The poverty-level is high and the lethal accidents who leave families without an economical stability is a daily problem for many as well. It means that if someone from your family dies, who worked and earns money to support the family, the fees can’t be paid, and as a part of the family you have to help. And worse than that, maybe that person already has children who need financial support as well.
Depending on the situation of the girl who didn’t pass the exam, WfZ takes a closer look at the individual circumstances. Wells for Zoë doesn’t pay fees to girls that didn’t study enough. What is going to be new this year is the option of an agriculture course in the garden instead of studying. Then they have the opportunity to have a enough knowledge in this field so they can make a living, growing their own food and maybe selling vegetables or fruits on the street.
Here I am introducing myself with a game and I asked them to join… The idea is to write a number that represents something important in your life, and the others have to guess. I was happy with the result when some of them wrote 7 and said “that’s the mark I am going to get”.