Battle of the Babes
help2kids benefits education in Lifuwu village partly by supporting the Tiyanjane AIDS Fighters CBCC Pre-school, attended primarily by orphans and otherwise vulnerable children. help2kids supplies the nursery school with all materials necessary to educate and feed over 100 children each day, provides salaries to its three teachers and other employees, and provides volunteers who assist with lessons and provide attention and love to children who often don’t get enough at home.
|This year, Tiyanjane’s head teacher, Fyness Diyele proposed that the nursery schools in Lifuwu come together for this year’s evaluation and compete for the title of best school. This idea came to Fyness after hearing that some in the community think Tiyanjane does not take academics seriously. “Most parents think that Tiyanjane is just for porridge and playing with azungu (foreigners)” Fyness said, “I want to demonstrate that the children are learning.” Fyness also believes the competition will create an opportunity to exchange ideas and strategies between the schools, “Maybe we can learn something [from them].” Fyness says the children at Tiyanjane perform the strongest in the alphabet and self-introductions and that she has many bright pupils, “One boy in my class will answer my questions before I [can] finish asking them!”
Chisomo Nursery School is on the other side of the village and primarily educates the children of employees from the governmental rice research station and primary school. While Chisomo nursery school is located in an old pump house and lacks seats, sanitation facilities, and learning materials, many in the village consider Chisomo to be one of the best. What this school lacks in supplies and facilities, it makes up for in quality of instruction. The dedicated volunteer teachers work on pre-literacy exercises with the children to help them recognize and spell basic English words.
Lifuwu Nursery School’s small grass shelter is located on a home compound close to the main Lifuwu market. A smaller number of students attend this school than Tiyanjane or Chisomo nurseries. Lifuwu Nursery School’s curriculum is similar to that of the other schools, focusing on learning the alphabet and numbers, self-introduction, and colors.
All three schools converged at the Tiyanjane campus on 15th July, 2015 to compete for the title of best nursery school in the “Battle of the Babes”, an event arranged and funded by help2kids. Each school performed one song as a group and then evaluated their top five learners in front of the Judges.
Other community leaders who came to show their support and give speeches were the Tiyanjane AIDS Fighters Community Based Organization (CBO) chairwoman Fatima and Group Village Headman, Chief Mzaule. The competition was judged by the headmasters and standard one teachers from both Kazembe and Lifuwu Basic primary schools.
The competition started off with an adorable song by Chisomo Nursery School. The cheerful song’s refrain was “tabwela kuvina, vina mu m’mchenga” which translates to “come dance, dance in the sand”. During this part, each child was called to dance individually. Lifuwu and Tiyanjane nursery schools also gathered in front of the crowd of over 250 people to sing their songs. Lifuwu’s song was about a child urging her mother to hurry so she is not late for school and Tiyanjane’s song was “The More We Get Together.” Tiyanjane’s performance was complete with hand movements and spoke nicely to our volunteers’ involvement with the school.
In between performances and assessments, the teachers spoke briefly about their respective schools and the Tingathe Youth Group performed a short drama and a song about education. Each student who was assessed individually was very brave through the exercises. Some were clearly more affected by stage fright than others, but as a whole they all did very well.
The highlight of Chisomo’s assessment was a dialogue between two of their students where they greeted one another, introduced themselves, and then went their separate ways.
The students from Lifuwu Nursery School did a great job reciting the alphabet and numbers from zero to ten from memory. Tiyanjane’s learners demonstrated great ability in identifying alphabet letters, and one student was even able to write his name.
It was a difficult job for the Judges to decide on the best school since each one possessed its own strengths. Overall, the children from Chisomo weren’t as shy and performed more consistently than Lifuwu or Tiyanjane. The competition was very stiff, so when Mr. Soko, headmaster from Kazembe Primary School announced Chisomo as the winner, its teachers jumped and cheered along with the parents in celebration. Tiyanjane was a close second, and Lifuwu Nursery School came in last.
The head teacher from Chisomo holds the prize up for all to see. Great job, Chisomo!
Chisomo won a large bag of educational materials donated by help2kids volunteers, and the two runners up were awarded a smaller amount of books and pencils for participating. Each school did a tremendous job this year preparing their learners for the competition as well as to begin standard one in September. While Tiyanjane did not take the top prize, they certainly accomplished their goal of demonstrating that they take the curriculum seriously. The effort shown from Lifuwu and Chisomo nursery schools was all the more impressive considering their small space and lack of resources.
The program ended with a speech from Lifuwu Basic Primary School headmaster, Clement Dzozi, reflecting on the ultimate purpose of pre-school education. He explained the advantage he has witnessed in children who had attended pre-school when entering primary school. He also believes that children retain this advantage and continue to have more successful academic careers when compared to children that did not attend pre-school.
help2kids is extremely proud to support pre-school education in Lifuwu and to sponsor events such as this one to increase awareness about the value of pre-school education in the community. We are incredibly grateful to our generous help2kids volunteers for giving their time, materials, and passion to our projects. The impact that they have on these young children will assist them through their lives. Please consider volunteering or donating for the projects in Malawi, and see what kind of impact you can make.