In Malawi 34% of children do not finish primary school, and for those that are in school it can often be a challenging time. Some classes have more than 100 pupils, with just one teacher and few materials to support their learning.
One little boy who wants the holidays to end so that he can go back to school, is seven-year-old Charles. Just over a year ago, it was a very different story. Charles used to fight in school and wouldoften fail to turn up to class.
His mother, Kelita, described him as unruly and disinterested in learning. She even had to persuade theheadteacher to give him a chance.The youngest boy of eleven kids, Kelita says Charles is her last hope as none of the older siblings finished school.
The family live ina remote village in Malawi with no electricity, mats to sleep on at night and an hour’s walk from school. Kelita said: “He was not well behaved and he would fight. Only five minutes into school he was hitting with hands and sticks.When he was skipping school he would play football or go to the dam and swim.”
Everything changed when solar powered tablets were introduced at the school as part of a project run by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), funded by Comic Relief and UK aid, who joined forces to give children in Malawi the chance to learn skills to build a brighter future. The tablets are installed with specially designed apps to teach maths and Chichewa (their local language) in fun, colourful and interactive ways.
Teachers are also given special training so they are better able to understand the needs of their students and improve their learning experience. Charles went from failing his exams and having to repeat his entire first year to being top of his class when he started participating in the project and using a tablet.
He said: “I was very annoying and used to fight my friend. I just used to go and play but after the tablets came I fell in love with school. I don’t miss any school now, I come every day. What makes me happy at school are the tablets.” With a maximum of 30 children in a session, children can work through lessons at their own pace. These sessions are helping children like seven-year-old Charles, who is excited for the holidays to end so that he can go back to school.
Kelita said: “When I heard that my son was top of his class my heart was so glad because I saw that this boy has stopped fighting now he’s concentrating on school.”