Project information

Dedza School Improvement Project, Malawi

The Dedza School Improvement Project supports schools in Malawi to deliver high quality education to all learners in a safe space, leading to better life chances for thousands of children. The project will prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable children including girls and orphans.

3 years

Charity information: Link Community Development International

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  • Need


    In Malawi few young people have the chance to fulfil their potential through education. Most children enrol in primary school but only 40% will complete basic education. This is mainly due to the poor quality of schooling. Only 15% of Grade 4 learners can read and understand simple text. Girls and other vulnerable children often face discrimination and sexual harassment at school.


    We know what works to improve learning in difficult circumstances – excellent teaching materials, lessons in the local language, teacher training and strong accountability. To make lasting improvements in access to quality education, change must involve the whole school community. In partnership with these communities, schools and local government we learn to understand the barriers to quality education and implement low-cost solutions to create long-term, sustainable change.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools


    » Train teachers in local language literacy and numeracy skills development, lesson planning and classroom management.
    » Provide schools with basic resources (e.g. manila paper, rice sacks and markers) to develop teaching and learning materials.
    » Conduct regular school support visits to plan core lessons with teachers, model good practice, and facilitate professional development workshops.
    » Track improvement through classroom observations.

    What success will look like

    Teachers demonstrate greater competence in the classroom, learning resources are being produced and used, and children are actively learning.

    Aim 2

    Improve girls’ participation in education and their safety and wellbeing in and outside school


    » Set up Girls’ Clubs to provide counselling, reproductive health support, and encourage girls to be confident, assertive and self-reliant.
    » Support female leaders in the community to positively influence household decisions about girls’ domestic duties and educational opportunities.
    » Support vulnerable or orphaned children with uniforms or school materials provision.
    » Enable Mother Groups to establish Village Savings and Loan Associations for economic empowerment and self-reliance.

    What success will look like

    Girls’ Clubs are active and generate income for activities, girls report that they feel safe, supported and able to fully participate in school.

    Aim 3

    Make schools child-friendly and inclusive


    » Teachers and school stakeholders trained on gender equality, providing guidance and counselling services, and alternatives to corporal punishment.
    » Support school leaders to promote co-curricular activities, HIV/AIDs awareness, health, nutrition and safety in school.
    » Facilitate sports competitions, school gardening, tree-planting, and health activities to make school more enjoyable, attractive, fulfilling and safe.
    » Provide alternative learning opportunities and additional support to vulnerable learners (girls, orphans, those with special educational needs).

    What success will look like

    Teachers have knowledge, skills and positive attitudes to child-friendly practices, deliver child-friendly activities and children feel safe at school.

    Aim 4

    Make schools accountable to parents


    » Inform parents, learners and communities about their rights under the National Education Standards.
    » Train Parent-Teacher Associations and School Management Committees on stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities.
    » Develop effective school improvement plans and monitoring school performance in partnership with communities.
    » Improve relationships between schools and the communities they serve through School-Community outreach projects e.g. cleaning a water source.

    What success will look like

    Parents have useful skills and positive attitudes for improving their school, confidence in using these skills and they put these into practice.

  • Impact


    Schools in Dedza deliver high quality education to all children, demonstrated by Link’s participatory School Performance Review which has been adopted by the Ministry of Education to assess schools against National Education Standards.

    The long-term outcome will be an increase in the number of children (including girls, orphans and vulnerable children) who complete primary school with life skills which enable them to fulfil their potential and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.


    There may be entrenched cultural beliefs about the value of educating girls or those with special needs. We will employ a rights-based approach to community sensitisation and emphasise the collective benefits of greater equality.

    Schools may be wary of community involvement. We have built awareness of the potential support available from communities and will ensure that community engagement is constructive through training on shared responsibilities and the role of a ‘critical friend’.


    Donors will receive a detailed update every 6 months describing the activities which have been accomplished, indications of success, and any necessary changes. At the end of the project, donors will receive a full study of the project impact, including feedback from the beneficiaries.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £96,300

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      Amount Heading Description
      £20,600 Community Participation Inform parents of rights, responsibilities and opportunities
      £24,300 Child Friendly Schools Gender equality, children's health and wellbeing
      £21,400 Teacher Training Local language and local learning resources
      £19,000 Girls’ Education Girls' Clubs and Mother Groups support learning,wellbeing and empowerment
      £11,000 Monitoring & Evaluation Checking progress, learning and sharing best practice
  • Background


    Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, where half the population lives in poverty. Two thirds of people are under 25, which puts significant pressure on an underperforming education system. In Dedza district most people earn a living from fishing or subsistence farming. Only 60% of adults can read and write. There are 236 primary schools spread across the district. Few have electricity or running water and many lack classrooms so lessons are held outside or in temporary shelters.


    213,266 learners will receive good quality education and complete primary school with basic skills, enabling them to fulfil their potential and ultimately to break the cycle of poverty.

    105,746 girls and other vulnerable children will be supported to participate in education in an environment which is safe, respectful and meets their needs.

    2,360 community members will have the capacity to support school improvement and ensure that schools are meeting their children’s needs.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Link Malawi has worked for 9 years in close partnership with communities, schools and the local government in Dedza where we are seen as long-term partners. In 2013-14 we carried out a review of every primary school in Dedza District. Among other things, this showed that in 80% of schools there was insufficient community support for teaching and learning. We have worked with the project beneficiaries to identify their needs and so we are best placed to work with them to solve these challenges.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Programme Director Dr Fritz Kadyoma

    Strategic leader and literacy specialist, Fritz will focus on teacher training, child-friendly schools and girls' learning, plus project management.

    Project Manager, Michael Mulenga

    Since 2008 Michael has been Link’s expert on school review and community engagement and will lead on parental and community participation.

    International Programme Director, Dr Samantha Ross

    Samantha will provide extensive monitoring and evaluation expertise as well as gender equality and responsive teacher training.

“Previously learners reached standard 8 without being able to write their names or surnames. Now standard 1 can do it.”