Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs (MSPC)
This project was developed after a really successful year developing the permaculture gardens in Mkondezi Primary school in 2015, so the principles of permaculture could be taught on a wider level around Nkhata Bay and offer the necessary materials for teachers who were interested to learn and teach their own school clubs.
Shorter training sessions are taught to teachers to deliver to their students, rather than a full Permaculture Design Course (PDC), which teachers struggle to find time for. We isolated the factors that had made Mkhondezi Primary School a success, and held an open day so we could demonstrate these principles to surrounding schools and get them involved!
Three other schools joined the programme for that coming September, so Josie started a crowd funder to cover the cost of the materials needed, and we developed practical session plans based around an after-school club for up to 40 children with topics ranging from waste management, compost, tree planting, seed saving, nutrition and water management.
We regularly observed and got involved in many of the sessions, and gained extensive feedback over the coming two years on the session plans, incorporating all this feedback to improve the programme further.
We aimed to train at least two teachers from each school and linked them with Friday Kamanga, a local permaculture expert and teacher, to develop a training course. We held the first one at Butterfly in August 2016, hosted by Friday, and the teachers from all involved schools along with other community members from the Agriculture Department and research station.
Twenty-one detailed session plans were developed to be delivered over three terms and regular teachers meetings were held at different school venues where the teachers had the chance to talk through problems and gain new ideas. We now run a fully developed and revised programme to over twenty two schools and counting! In May 2018 MSPC won the young project award from the Lush Spring Prize and this boost gave us the chance to develop the idea even further.
Following interest from schools further afield, we piloted with five to see how the distance affected the success of the programme. Two teachers from each of these schools attended the training here at Butterfly Space in 2018. A total of 40 teachers from 20 schools attended! Due to the expansion, a one-day sensitisation programme was developed for the Primary Education Advisors, to involve them with the programme happening at their schools and encourage them to involve other schools.
Expansion of the project has also seen us develop the idea of outlying clusters for the schools. Transport is costly in Malawi so we have aimed to develop links and resources in different areas to avoid these costs. Each cluster now sees a mixture of schools, with trained teachers, information, seeds, ideas and determination. The vision is that after five years of support with MSPC, schools would have enough knowledge and materials to continue the project independently.
We further hope to develop a number of link projects that these schools could expand to at the end of our five-year involvement. While these are not finalised as yet they could include;
- Assistance with a permaculture school feeding programme if the school has access to a hectare of and.
- Small scale build projects at the school, highlighting eco-sanitation techniques amongst others things.
- Educational links to schools outside Malawi who may also be following an environmental curriculum.
- Links to solar organisations who could assist with lighting facilities if schools are completely off the grid.
We have recently linked up with Roots Interns to try and attract longer-term volunteers that can help push this exciting project forward as it develops. If you want to stay in touch more then please like our separate Facebook page to keep up to date with this project.
- develop year packs for children who attended the club who may want to carry on projects the following year.
- Help develop a five year plan and potential links, e.g. some of the schools have access to a hectare of land that could produce food directly for the school-feeding programme.
- Renovate the empty buildings at Mkondezi Primary School, which are old home economic and carpentry workshops. This would allow both nutritional lessons linked to the garden, and carpentry skills training. .
- Incorporate alternative technologies like compost toilets, rainwater harvester and solar cookers at schools. We hope to increase community awareness of environmental issues and volunteers could help implement these relevant skills into the networks we are forming around Nkhata Bay.
Using the garden as a learning tool for the children has proved very successful, both for food production and environmental issues. With Josie’s passion for the environment she has taught many teachers and community members and Permaculture Design Courses have been held at Butterfly which offers another great training opportunity.
- Work with Francis or Josie in the gardens to plant new crops and species which can be used for the schools. Diversity is the key in Permaculture.
- Help out with the organisational aspect of the growing MSPC project;
- Assist the schools, especially during busy periods where they have open days and visits to other permaculture sites.
- Get involved with schools during their weekly practical sessions, or arranging extra sessions with the kids.
- Use produce from the garden to demonstrate new recipe and nutrition ideas during one of the weekly sessions.
- Assist with data analysis for the increasing number of schools taking part.
- Help fundraise so that more schools can join this programme.
- Plant tree seedlings at Butterfly for transplanting later at schools.
- Paint signs to label more trees around Butterfly and to add to the Butterfly nature trail which is now open for school visits and teacher training. This is also linked to the information in the nutrition folder.
- Help with landscaping around the site at Butterfly or at the schools.
- Help to maintain and develop sustainable practices around Butterfly Space for demonstration purposes during school visits and teacher training, such as the drip irrigation system and solar water heaters.