Unique Malawi Education Partnership Launched to Help People and Animals
A unique conservation education partnership launched to great excitement at Liwonde National Park, Malawi today with hopes high the initiative will have a significant impact on improving school success rates in local communities who live daily with wildlife.
The official launch of a partnership between the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) and education NGO, HELP Malawi (Help, Educate, Love, Protect – www.helpchildren.org) was held at Nanthomba Full Primary School, Balaka District, Malawi.
“This exciting initiative is developing locally-relevant education programmes intended to improve knowledge and attitudes among people who share their lives daily with wildlife and, very importantly will improve graduation rates among school goers in this community and reduce the number of repeater students,” said Nancy Barr, Director of IFAW’s Animal Action Education Programme.
Nanthomba Full Primary School lies on the western border of Liwonde National Park, and communities in the region regularly interact with wildlife including herds of elephants, hippopotamus and other game.
The two organisations will begin rolling out IFAW’s Animal Action Education Programmes at schools close to Liwonde from the start of the 2014-15 academic year.
HELP Malawi is an established NGO focused on education and which concentrates its work at schools in Balaka District.
IFAW funding has helped build two new dormitory blocks at Nanthomba Full Primary School to house 12 trainee teachers from the Machinga Teacher’s Training College thus reducing pupil/teacher ratios from 90:1 to 43:1 at Nanthomba and providing the teaching assistance needed to integrate IFAW’s conservation and animal welfare curriculum into school lessons.
The launch event was attended by Member of Parliament for Balaka, Honourable Yaumi Mpaweni, District Education Manager, Mr Felix Masamba, Education Division Manager, Mr Gregory Alufandika, District Commissioner, Mr Lusizi Nhlane and District Projects Manager, Mr P Gondwe. Hundreds of students from Nanthomba Full Primary School and the nearby community gathered to celebrate the new partnership.
“The visionary approach of the board of Nanthomba Full Primary and HELP Malawi, and the support of local leaders, means the IFAW Animal Action Education curriculum will be used to supplement in-class learning while focusing on two core areas, literacy and conservation,” said Barr.
Jillian Wolstein, Founder of HELP Malawi, said the partnership between the two organisations coupled with HELP’s commitment to engaging regional knowledge, highlighted their approach to community development.
“HELP anticipates a well-received programme which will have real impact by increasing school graduation rates. We’re extremely delighted by this new partnership which draws together two critical considerations for the community in the district, those of wildlife and conservation and the need for ever improving levels of education, said Wolstein.
New research has shown that the conservation of large animal species – Liwonde NP is renowned for its elephants – may depend more on good education, greater literacy, good government and less corruption than merely setting aside areas for conservation.
IFAW has been active at Liwonde NP since 2011, through its Liwonde NP Conservation Programme, in which it partners with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Last year IFAW support helped build the Chikolongo Community Fish Farm which provides a livelihood opportunity for local people and secure access to safe drinking water.
Since the opening of the fish farm, incidences of human-wildlife conflict have been greatly reduced, while elephant raids on the crops protected by the village’s electric fence were limited to only one incident in 12 months. The fish farm also reduces poaching pressure on animals in Liwonde NP, and fish poaching in the Shire.
HELP Malawi was established in 2006. It currently focuses its work in the Balaka District which spans across 18 villages along the Western border of Liwonde National Park
HELP worked with the community, Central African Wilderness Safaris and the Ministry of Education to construct the Nanthomba Full Primary School, just outside the western border of Liwonde NP. HELP provides infrastructure and programming support to Nanthomba which educates 1,035 students, as well as to three other primary schools in the area. Besides the regular government curriculum afterschool activities related to environmental management are undertaken.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.