Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Ireen Kanjala
The time I spent with family and friends over the festive season was wonderful, but now it’s time to get back to work in my community. It’s January again and it’s the beginning of a new academic term for primary students. Both new students and old faces are filling the classrooms, all of whom seem eager to be back in school. I think the students were as excited as I was to get back to learning and seize 2018! Although I have been in my community for two months, I am still familiarizing myself with my community and the bright faces I see every morning at school. These smiling faces make every day easier than the last.
Since I’ve been back from holiday break, I started attending a youth club organized by youth volunteers. This club is in collaboration with Child Legacy International (CLI) and Population Services International (PSI). The theme for the first club meeting of 2018 was “Empowering Youth Education.” During the meeting youth presented role plays, poetry, had a debate, and performed music and dances.
Some of the issues and messages highlighted in the performances were on school dropout, the importance of getting an education, and how to build a future from a younger stage. The question I had at the beginning of the meeting was, “Why are young people dropping out of school in my community?” The youth in my community have helped me understand the various problems and solutions associated with school dropout, which include:
1 – Lack of dedicated role-models holding youth-to-youth counselling and education awareness campaigns in the community.
- Conducting community career talks involving the youth in the community (by role-models) to inspire others.
- Conducting education awareness campaigns at the community level.
2 – Low household income levels which makes education less of a priority
- Implementation of back-to-school programs which would help low income households send children back to school by providing essentials such as fees, school uniforms, school bags, and stationery.
3 – Lack of after-school programs
- Introduction of educational and recreational clubs that will help to keep students motivated even out of school.
- Creating reading and storytelling groups to promote the school reading program.
4 – Early marriages, which lead to early pregnancies
- Developing family life and sex education programs so that young people can face reality of their sexual life.
I have been impressed by the way the youth in my community have a pool of shared understanding in these various topics, and it is amazing what young people can achieve together! As I continue my service as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, I am excited to attend youth club meetings every Wednesday afternoon because I am eager to learn and share my views with this new team.