Development Aid from People to People
Who we are
DAPP Malawi was established in 1995 by Humana People to People, an international development organization. DAPP is a large NGO with a number of major projects in Malawi which focus on fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, fighting hunger through farmer education, vocational skills training and teacher training for rural primary schools. We raise money to support our projects by selling used clothing and books, items which are in short supply in Malawi.
In 1994, the government of Malawi introduced free primary school education resulting in huge numbers of new students and a need for qualified teachers. In 2002, DAPP established a teacher training college in the Blantyre rural district. The 2.5 year course uses a child-centered learning approach, producing teachers who are creative, rich in initiative, innovative and eager to develop their rural school and community. Our work with the African Library Project is done through our teacher training college.
In addition to our teacher training program, the college is a center for development activity in the district. We provide sports and conference facilities for the surrounding community. 250 people from the surrounding community attend afternoon classes. Children have remedial classes and learn basic computer skills, and adults learn tree planting, nutritious cooking, basic computer skills and sewing. The college hosts seminars for the surrounding primary schools' teachers on education issues.
What daily life is like here
Most Malawians live in simple homes of mud brick with leaf or tin roofs. Rural homes do not have electricity or running water. Most Malawians spend their time hauling water, collecting firewood, growing crops and trying to survive. Roads are unpaved and there are few cars. The cars drive on the left side of the road as we were a British Colony until 1964. People walk or use bicycles for transportation.
90% of rural Malawians are subsistence farmers. Our country is one of the world's least developed and most densely populated and sadly, has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. The dropout rates in schools are higher for girls than boys because of gender-based violence during the long walks to schools. Overall, however, attendance rates are improving and youth literacy has climbed.
Attending school is a luxury. The average class size is 150 students to one teacher. Younger students often have no desks and sit on the floor. Our culture has a strong oral tradition and reading has not come easily. We have suffered from a severe shortage of books. With little to read, reading has not been a popular activity. We are trying to change that.
Malawians have a reputation of being very friendly and welcoming. Our nickname is "the warm heart of Africa".
Why we work with the African Library Project
Books are very difficult to obtain in Malawi. There are no bookstores selling new books which would be prohibitively expensive anyway. Our teacher training college is located in a rural area and serves students from rural Malawi who would like to become teachers. 85% of them request placement in rural schools. Our graduates are eager and ready to develop children into good students. As new graduates of DAPP's teacher training college, they have personally experienced the difference that having quality education materials makes in learning. They are eager to learn how to manage a simple library and get experience with one during their student teacher training by working in our Pedagogical Workshops. For our rural primary schools, working with the African Library Project is a perfect fit as a partner for us. We provide eager new teachers freshly trained in library management skills and placed in rural primary schools and ALP provides books, a system and support.
How we work with the African Library Project
DAPP Teacher Training College Chilangoma began to partner with ALP in 2008. We have 12 schools in our area where our teachers finish their coursework by "student teaching" in a classroom. Each school has been equiped with a Pedagogical Workshop which is like a community library that includes a few computers, an outdoor community meeting space, and trained librarian/community development worker. The Workshop is open to surrounding villagers to encourage their personal growth and to support community development. In 2009, we received books to improve these Workshops from the African Library Project.
In 2010, we became ALP's lead partner in Malawi. Now, annually, the Wungwero Book Foundation conducts library management courses at DAPP for our student teachers. Those successfully completing their course are able to apply for a library from ALP for the new school in which they are placed. Over the years, we have seen transformative progress in the schools that establish an ALP library combined with the initiative and knowledge of teachers trained at DAPP.
In 2009, we attended the ALP African Partners Summit held in Lesotho. We have implemented many of the techniques and ideas that we learned there which has improved our libraries a lot. In 2011, we attended the Summit in Swaziland.
In 2013, we were honored and delighted to host delegates from eight countries in Malawi for the 4th ALP African Partners Summit. Our international group of 40 delegates visited ALP libraries in area schools, shared best practices and trained 80 Malawian teacher-librarians in library management and literacy promotion. In 2015, we learned about the latest best practices in small library development at the ALP Summit in Ghana.
What we have accomplished with ALP
In 2009, we improved six DAPP Pedagogical Workshops with ALP books. These pedagogical workshops are open to the whole community. Since then, we have started about 20-60 libraries each year. With the assistance of the Wungwero Book Foundation, each year we've been training our new teacher-librarians in simple library management techniques.
Our hopes and wishes
We hope to continue this ongoing work with the African Library Project. We've discovered that the combination of DAPP teachers and and ALP library can truly transform a school into a vibrant learning oasis for our students. Meanwhile, we have worked our way up to 60 new libraries in one year and we hope to continue at this pace.
How you can help
Please just keep supporting ALP with donations of books and money to ship them. We are very appreciative of your help so far and would like to continue to benefit from the good will of Americans sending books. Really, this will make a huge difference in Malawi.
Our sincere thanks to the people making it happen
We very much appreciate all of the people in the U.S. who have worked so hard to send books to Malawi and to the African Library Project. We are grateful to our Pedagogical Workshop Directors for their daily support of students and villagers to improve their reading skills. Thank you Wungwero Book Foundation for training our students.
To learn more about the African Library Project
ALP Libraries in Malawi: 355 (August 2016)
Readers reached: 500,000