Background of The Mlambe Project
The Mlambe Project is a grassroots international NGO working to put an end to educational disadvantage in Malawi.
The Mlambe Project works through sustainable, community driven and innovative development to ensure that every child and young person will have the fundamental right to education and transformative access to learning opportunities providing access to livelihoods beyond subsistence farming, subsequently offering connections to the global economy. Through our sustainable infrastructure building programme, we teach Malawians how to build schools using ecological and economic techniques. Our goals are to work towards every child having a classroom place throughout their primary and secondary schooling.
Malawi-one of the poorest nations in the world.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite having established a stable democracy, which is by and large unaffected by domestic or international conflict. Officially called the Republic of Malawi, it is located in South-East Africa and is bordering with Tanzania in the north, Zambia in the west and Mozambique to the east and south. In fact, with a population of 18 million people, over 70% of the population is living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day.
Literacy rates at 62% / only half of total students persist to final grade of primary, 96% school enrolment yet only 4% govt. expenditure went to education in 2017.
In order for Malawi to combat poverty, investing in educating the population is of great importance, as is investment in infrastructure. An example of a country recently having lifted itself out of poverty with a similar strategy is Vietnam which has lifted itself into being a middle income country through investment in educational and infrastructure.
What have we done so far?
Specifically, the Mlambe Project’s main activity is providing quality school buildings using environmentally responsible, socially sustainable and economical construction techniques. Throughout the process of planning, building and evaluating these projects, the focus on community engagement has been imperative. This means that the local communities and the Malawian Government are included in all aspects of the project, from identifying communities in need of schools, to handing over the schools once built to relevant local community stakeholders.
But it is not only the school buildings themselves that are helping the local communities. Through setting up The Mlambe Project Limited, we have created a social enterprise incubator, which aims at building the capacities of Malawians, allowing the social enterprise to go on and secure local building contracts, for other NGOs and as their skills diversify, they will grow their commercial contracts and feed profits back into development.
By doing so, local people are developing a workforce skill which will, in the long run, make them experts in the field. By developing these skills, we envision a future where local people can apply these sustainable building methods as a tool to develop communities. Thus, one of our main goals for the forthcoming year is to identify more opportunities for The Mlambe Project Limited to be commissioned to assemble buildings in different communities. This is the first of several projects we are working on within the social enterprise framework.
We have also explored the role of higher education in rural communities we have served to date in Chikolongo. This has involved partnering with the first online, tuition-free and fully accredited university which is tailored for rural communities in low-income countries – the University of the People. This particular project acts to bridge educational equity issues inherent in rural populations in Malawi, where few rural Malawians have the means or opportunity to access national universities. As such, the provision of university degrees to rural areas is an approach which broadens horizons, enhances aspirations and promotes the chances of Malawians to access quality and sustainable employment in the long-term.
Why The Mlambe Project?
Everyone involved from the trustees through to the volunteers of this charity have become personally engaged with developing The Mlambe Project as a grassroots movement. We work with communities to form a close development relationship in Malawi, and gaining a better insight from our work along the way by being deeply rooted to the community. We actively encourage trustees to visit the communities we work with to get a sense of connection with the issues we are trying to resolve.
We have achieved unbelievable impact on such modest resources, because we firmly believe in mobilising our communities as active participants in development, and giving them an opportunity to develop and devise our future programmes. On a national development level it is about the absolute need for the transformative education programmes like ourselves. Malawi is one of the poorest in the world, and Balaka and Mangotchi, districts of Malawi within our operational remit, are particularly poor performing areas, as such, children are growing up in one of the worst areas in the world for education in the world.
Aims of our 2019-2025 Six Year Strategy:
We’re working towards making educational disadvantage history in Malawi and our long-term strategy and mission is to ensure every child in Malawi can be educated in a school with lighting, water and power, which is no mean feat considering that Malawi is the 19th poorest country in the world.
We’re also working to join up the Malawi economy to the global economy through the creation of meaningful training, further and higher education opportunities that connect Malawian communities to jobs that enrich local economies and give direct employment, providing much needed diversification of income sources in Malawi.
Our key objectives over the next six years are to:
Create 5000 jobs in new markets in Malawi, working through partnerships with the private sector, educational institutions, international NGOs, major donors and civil society to develop a robust pilot of entering Malawi into the global marketplace. We will do this by stimulating social enterprise and businesses, training businesses to help them grow and identifying mentorships that stimulate their business growth.
Create the infrastructure for 25,000 school, college and university places for children and young people by 2025, enabling us to improve literacy levels and overall educational attainment in Malawi. We will do this by improving capacity of existing schools and building new ones, as well as associated school buildings like latrines and teachers homes, through our schools building programme. We will also work to influence global partners to develop and build schools in Malawi and set up access to a wide pool of online learning resources, and relationships with Universities and Colleges (Globally as well as locally)
We will advocate the use, celebration and trust of sustainable building techniques across the construction industry for buildings of social purpose in Malawi to advance economic development and to use for schools building as a celebrated, economic and ecological building technique.
. Underpinning our work will be the principles of:
Developing community leadership and participation in decision making and delivering and developing services that are responsive to community needs. We will work to drive local decision making in our projects and programmes and foster true local engagement to enhance the voices of beneficiaries.
A South-South approach to development, utilising as much of the workforce in Malawi as possible and minimising approaches that require bringing in skills from outside the country. We will prioritise the employment of Malawians in this instance over external individuals This also means wherever possible, utilising developments already working well across the region to share expertise in development. We areaware of and recognise the inherent dangers of imposing on low-income nations a westernised model built on dependency-creation; rather,we seek to develop a model of development unique to Malawi, its people, its inherent strengths and the myriad beholden challenges.
Iterative development of each new project. The reflect and learn cycle has in-built programme evaluations into every project at phased stages of the projects or programmes.
Embedding skills development- that wherever we are bringing in volunteers or staff from other countries, it is purely to work to embed those skills in the local workforce, and not as a permanent resource. Our focus is on knowledge transfer, sustainable in the local context and a ‘done with’ rather than ‘done for’ approach.
Sustainable beyond our provision- We look to create projects that become locally-owned at the end of our initial funding, moving beyond a handout model of development to ensure successful transition of management to local hands in the long-term.
For more information or for an informal conversation please speak to our chief executive, Anna Day.
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