Thanks to Audio Farm and their support of Love Specs Mkunkhu school Malawi is now making moves to self sustainability. Sales from Love Specs at the festival have helped to buy seeds and the school has begun to grow crops at the school itself, not only using it to feed the teachers and pupils but to also teach the children modern farming techniques, obviously a very valuable skill in a country where over 85% of the population live in rural areas. Using intercropping methods, pumpkin and other nutritious vegetables will be planted amongst the maize to tackle the problem of malnutrition, and take a preventative approach to many illnesses. This combined with growing Moringa and medicinal herbs will increase the health and productivity of the entire community.
One of the many problems that the Malawian education system faces, is pupils not attending their lessons., this is often because they have other more pressing duties, like finding food or water. On top of this there is always a severe lack of teachers: in the city, teachers will have a class of up to 200 children, and in rural areas there is often only one government teacher for anywhere between 500, to 1000 children. The teacher deficit is made up from people in the local community teaching on a voluntary basis paid in maize. When we first met the pupils of Mkunkhu school, two teachers had left because they were starving.
For a large portion of the year, both teachers and pupils may be drinking only a cup or two of water a day, and only eating one meal, every two days.
Our aim for the end of 2015, is be able to pay the teachers, in maize, enough that they can feed themselves, and be able to feed every pupil, one bowl of porridge per week.
By 2020 we want to be able to feed every pupil one meal per day, and have enough maize left over for the school to sell to pay the teachers, to buy textbooks and other school equipment.
Ultimately, we aim to allow the school to permanently sustain itself without having to fully rely on government grants, or charitable handouts. Mkunkhu school, is on a path to become a flagship project in helping Malawi to climb out of the dark ages of misguided agricultural techniques, and an unhealthy ignorance of nutrition. With local farmers, like Rodrick Bwetu, and local herbalists, like Bongo Maseko, as teachers, we know that this a project that cannot fail.
Do you have any farming knowledge? Any knowledge of horticulture, permaculture, agroecology, ecoagriculture, or other environmental studies? Or would you like to gain practical experience of the any of these fascinating practical studies?