Advancing our new strategy

From Anna Day, our Chief Executive.

In February 2019 trustees of The Mlambe Project met to develop a new strategy for the project, and we created an ambitious strategy to develop and extend school building and education to a level of transformative impact in Malawi.

We set a set of long term, ambitious goals to create 25,000 new classroom places in Malawi, through developing Malawi’s schools infrastructure. We also set an ambitious goal to create 10,000 new jobs.

Underpinning our work will be the principles of:

  1. 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.

  2. 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 are aware 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Our model of partnerships to achieve this work will be:

Our building model for developing further school places will be:

Quality indicators for schools:

  • Community led- fostering relationships with school management committees and chiefs, needs led at the heart of our work.

  • Engaging government in understanding need, working closely with primary and district level education advisers. 

  • Focus on the least developed areas – with our resources, but we may fund work in other areas of deprivation.

  • Designed with the user in mind.

  • Economically sustainable.

  • Ecological – using local, natural materials to minimise carbon footprint.

  • Every class room we build has a teacher provided through the Malawian Government

How do we decide which schools to build?

  • The average size of classrooms should be 40:1 ratio between an teacher and the children, although in some areas we are working to address, there are nearly five times the number of pupils (188:1) allocated to each classroom. If you were comparing this at a global scale, the children from other countries would be more likely to have just 35 pupils in the same space designated for 60 in Malawi. This shows that the burden on classrooms is huge, and in effect, children end up being taught outdoors in less than ideal conditions, or indoors in heavily cramped and overcrowded classrooms. During the rainy season, often children will not come to school as there is no shelter.

  • The number of children per toilet at each school indicates a need for urgent investment in toilets at schools, with a typical ratio of 77 to 135 children having to share the use of a toilet throughout the day.


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Portrait of Esther Khoza (Headteacher Nkhonde School) in s light green button up shirt and a school behind her

The Mlambe Project does a good job to support the Ministry of Education while helping Malawi children to get a good education under favourable conditions in a classroom.

Ester Khoza (Headteacher Nkhonde School)

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