Mr Alexander Chizembe and the Benefits of Reading Camps

Temwa’s Community Literacy Project Supports Students to Excel

Mr Alexander Chizembe is one of the teachers at Nthembo Primary School in Usisya, Northern Malawi. He has been teaching at the school for a while and wishes to share the story of a particular student, Hannah, coming from Temwa’s Reading Camps.

Primary school education in Malawi is made up of eight years (referred to as Standard 1 to Standard 8). Mr Chizembe teaches pupils in Standard 5, including Hannah, and has 79 students with 20 who previously participated in Temwa’s Reading Camps.

According to Mr Chizembe, students with a history of going to the Reading Camps tend to excel in both English and Chichewa compared to their peers at primary school. As part of our Community Literacy Project, Reading Camps primarily focuses on teaching English and Chichewa to children in Standard 1 to 4 to support them moving into Standard 5 where lessons are taught in English.

This is a community effort and parents have now taken an active role in sending their children to Reading Camps as well as mobilising mentors for the project. Mr Chizembe believes continued support from organizations like Temwa, providing students with reading materials, can support students and parents alike to maintain and foster a passion for reading.

One notable student, Hannah, attended a Reading Camp from Standard 1 to 4. Mr Chizembe speaks highly of her, describing her as exceptionally sharp and confident:

“…this background has set her apart from her peers, and in her transition from standard 4 to 5, Hannah ranked among the top 10 students, securing the 8th position out of the 79 learners in my class.”

Bringing the Community Together through Literacy

Although primary education in Malawi is free, students are required to purchase their own school uniform, pens, and notebooks, which many families find difficult. Temwa supports families and students like Hannah by improving the reading and writing skills of primary-aged children through weekly after-school Reading Camps. We also run engagement meetings, spelling bees, literacy fairs, radio shows and the community library in the town of Usisya. These provide the wider community with access to books, educational materials and a quiet place to learn.

Read more about this project in our latest report here.

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