Expanding Education in Malawi

Currently, only 35 out of every 100 students complete primary school in Malawi, and only nine percent of students go on to complete secondary school. buildOn’s new Community Day Secondary School in Mbongozi is helping to change this.

Most children living in rural Malawi are unable to pursue a secondary school education because their parents lack the resources to send them far from home to conventional secondary schools, where they would have to pay to board them. In an effort to improve educational opportunities for primary school graduates, and eliminate the financial barriers that came with the boarding schools, buildOn constructed our first Community Day Secondary School in Mbongozi, Malawi.

This innovative secondary school is located in the Zyalambe zone, in the northeast corner of the Kasungu district in central Malawi. To date, buildOn has partnered with 28 communities in the Zyalambe zone to build much-needed primary school blocks, including 12 communities whose primary schools will feed directly into Mbongozi Community Day Secondary School. Because the of the school’s key location, students from these communities will be able to walk or ride their bikes to class, making education more accessible for all.

The new school includes three two-classroom blocks and four sets of toilets for students. These washrooms include running water which is important as it promotes attendance for female students who are experiencing their menstrual cycles. Also included at the school are a library and a science lab, which provide the students with opportunities to improve their reading skills, do research, and participate in hands-on experiments and lessons. Solar panels installed on one of the school blocks provide electricity for all of the classrooms and administrative buildings, allowing students and teachers to use the classrooms in the evening to study or plan their lessons.

Another important feature of the Secondary School campus is its staff housing. Teachers are now able to live on campus which is a huge incentive for educators who would otherwise have had to travel for several kilometers each day to reach the community. A block of toilets specifically for teachers was also built at the school.

Over the next eight years, the secondary school in Mbongozi will provide more than 7,000 students with the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Since the completion of Mbongozi Community Day Secondary School in the summer of 2021, a sense of renewed hope has blossomed in the region. Initially, 186 students were enrolled in the school, including 87 girls (47%). Today, there are now 238 students who are attending the secondary school and 57% of those students are girls. And this is just the start– over the next eight years, more than 7,000 students from 12 communities are expected to attend and graduate from Mbongozi Community Day Secondary School, changing not only their futures but those of their families and communities as well. All of these youth would have missed out on the opportunity to continue their education if it hadn’t been for the support of buildOn and its funding partners, and the hard work of the community members themselves, who led the project and volunteered each day on the worksite.

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