Global Action Week 2011

Global Action Week 2011

Global Action Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness and call on governments around the world to keep their promises on the UN Millennium Development Goal of achieving Education for All. EI firmly believes that governments have the know-how and resources to ensure everyone has the chance to learn and all governments have a responsibility to make sure it happens.

This is why, every year, EI and other founding members of the Global Campaign for Education are joined by millions of students, teachers and activists to take part in simple, but powerful public actions. The reason for focusing on education is because it remains the key to enabling people to actively participate in shaping their lives and quality of outcomes.

Women and girls' education

This year, Global Action Week will take place from 2-8 May on the theme of Women and Girls' Education - an issue that still sees 1 in 4 women in the world unable to read or write - because we know that girls and women face particular obstacles that hinder them getting an education. They are vulnerable to violence on the way to school and in and around schools, early pregnancy, early marriage, poor health, HIV infection and gendered discrimination in the wider community and at schools. The theme for Global Action Week 2011 will address the problems that girls and women face in achieving an education, the benefits to the wider community when women are adequately educated and the mechanisms and solutions that can be used to empower female learners across the globe.

The Big Story

The action for this year's campaign will focus on The Big Story of women and girls' education. EI and GCE are collecting stories from and about the importance of women and girls' education, and adding them to the international narrative about this important issue. We'll use these stories to put collective pressure on governments to make sure they keep

Get involved

Global Action Week is a participatory event so if you want to be part of this exciting campaign you can register at

This is a story illustrating just one of the challenges many women and girls face when trying to get a quality education. It was written by Fhulufhelo Jessica Mamelasigidi, a grade 10 student in South Africa:

"A day in the life of a young South African girl is not an easy task at all! I wake up to a new day with what I hope and aspire to accomplish that day. I get out of bed and wake up my younger brothers and sisters and try to motivate them for the day ahead. Being the eldest girl in my family, it is my duty to prepare a healthy breakfast for all and make lunch for school for everybody, playing the role of 'care-giver'. I walk my younger brother and sister to crèche and only after that, when I am finally on my way to school, can I play the role of Jessica, 'the learner'. I sit in my seat striving to receive the education my parents were deprived of, knowing I am a girl and it is against my tradition for a female to attend school and be educated. However I sit in class holding my future in my heart, trying to overcome society and the prejudice that still exists against a young girl being educated. I try to show that I, as a young South African woman, am just as worthy to an education as the boy sitting next to me. My school is a good source of encouragement especially when it comes to its female learners. I go home to play the role of 'sister' Jessica, in the late afternoon. I clean the house, fetch my younger brother and sister from crèche and make sure I have started dinner before my mother gets home. I am always wanting to lash out at her and express what I really feel, wanting to tell her: "No! I do not want to become an employee at this age!" Why doesn't she just leave me to be educated and develop into the empowered women I want to be? Tired, energy-drained and fatigued, I go to bed and pray to thy Father in Heaven. I get into bed and close my eyes, I listen to the sound of drums beating in the distance and to the ancestors singing "Mosadi wannete o aga lelapa" (a real woman should create a family) and slowly I drift into a deep sleep..." their promises to women and girls to ensure Education for All.

EI condemns “desperate tactics” as Egypt uprising turns violent

Education International has called for Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to bring an immediate end to the violence being led by his regime against peaceful demonstrators who continue to demand fundamental rights and democratic change.

After a day of clashes between supporters of the President and protesters calling on him to resign immediately, Egyptian state television reports that hundreds of people have been wounded in pitched battles across Cairo.

EI calls for an immediate end to the violent repression of peaceful protesters which has been characterised by beatings, lootings and censorship of television and communications networks. EI also insists that those responsible for the violence be brought to justice.

EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, said: “There are moments when history is written not by the powerful, but by the people. This is one of them. Millions of Egyptians face a fateful choice. Thousands have been jailed, injured or killed in the last few days, but if they press on in peaceful protest, they could end decades of tyranny. Their government must listen and respond to the legitimate demands of Egyptian society, including independent trade unions, teachers and students.”

EI calls on the Egyptian authorities to protect its citizens. EI President, Susan Hopgood, said: “The violent repression of the people's voice is unjustified and the authorities must ensure a peaceful transition to genuine democracy takes place without delay.”

As the political crisis has grown with protests in the streets the regime of President Mubarak has become ever-more desperate to stop media coverage of the uprising. EI is calling on its affiliates to lobby their government to press the Egyptian regime to protect its citizens and to end its communication blackout which constitutes a serious violation of the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.

EI welcomes the newly established Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions (EFIU) which is comprised of independent trade unions of teachers, health professionals and other workers. In its founding statement, the EFIU calls for Egyptian workers ‘to organise and defend their workplace and all citizens during these critical times and to organise protest actions and strikes to realise the people's claims'.

ETUCE Conference - Work Related Stress for Teachers

ETUCE Conference - Work Related Stress for Teachers

Brussels 16/17 February 2009 -

attendee F Dalziel, Professional Officer

The objectives of the Conference were:

� to bring together Unions in Europe to share and agree best practice on drawing up and carrying out Risk Assessments on teacher stress

� to share the results of surveys already carried out on the health of teachers in relation to work related stress including a particularly useful one originated by the German government

Work related stress was revealed as a major issue generally for EU workers where between 50% and 60% of days lost at work are due to this factor. Stress in schools is causing teachers to leave the profession and is contributing to teacher absence. The sources were identified as workload, increased class size, pupil behaviour and poor school management.

The symptoms at organisational level were:

� absenteeism

� high staff turnover

� disciplinary problems

� violence and psychological harassment

� reduced productivity

� mistakes and accidents

� increased costs from compensation or health care

The symptoms at individual level were:

� Emotional reactions (irritability, anxiety, sleep problems, depression, hypochondria, alienation, burnout, family relationship problems)

� Cognitive reactions (difficulty in concentrating, remembering, learning new things, making decisions)

� Behavioural reactions (abuse of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, destructive behaviour)

� Physiological reactions (back problems, weakened immunity, peptic ulcers, heart problems, hypertension)

The Law - employers' responsibilities:

� Legally, employers are obliged to manage WRS just like every other risk to health and safety in the workplace

� WRS is preventable by taking appropriate action

� The key to this is Risk Assessment

� Employers are legally obliged to carry out regular RAs in the workplace.

ETUCE has a network set up on Working Conditions and Health and Safety which we have access to for exchanging information. Some European countries, including parts of England, already have a database where teachers can anonymously measure their stress level annually and compare it to the average for their profession. Some Local Authorities in Scotland have introduced an onsite Risk Assessment for those found to be suffering from stress.


CPD WITH A WARM HEART - Experiences as a Global Teacher in Malawi

Link Community Development and the Global Teachers Programme

During 2008, and continuing into 2009, with support from SSTA, I am participating in the Global Teachers Programme organised by the international development charity Link Community Development (LCD), which receives support from LTS. LCD works in South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi on long-term educational development projects, providing ongoing training and support to over 1000 schools, and includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu amongst its patrons. It aims to improve the quality of education in Africa by working in partnership with local departments of education and also to raise awareness of international development issues in UK schools.

For the past three years, as part of the wider Global Teachers Programme, LCD Scotland has been sending Scottish teachers to Malawi to work alongside colleagues in primary schools in Dedza District to help develop teaching practice and leadership and management skills. Dedza District is one of 27 administrative districts in Malawi, lying southeast of the capital, Lilongwe, in the central region of the country. There are 208 primary schools in the district, divided into 19 zones, with each zone having its own Primary Education Advisor (PEA). LCD Malawi works with the District Education Office to improve primary education in a variety of ways and one of these is the Global Teachers Programme. Their wider work in the Malawi School Improvement Project is supported by the Scottish Government's Malawi Development Programme.

As a teacher, the highlight of the Global Teachers Programme is, undoubtedly, the 5 week placement in Malawi, most of which is spent in a rural school and living with a local family. It is such a huge privilege. Prior to the placement, LCD held two training weekends in Scotland to provide background information about Malawi and its education system, to prepare us for what to expect in village life and in our schools, and to begin to think about how we might follow up our experiences in our own and other schools. Afterwards, we reflect on our experiences and write placement reports before a third weekend together to discuss our follow-up modules. During the session after our placement, we carry out work on follow-up modules of our own choosing to raise awareness in Scotland. There will be a final meeting in May/June 2009 to display and share the work we have done as Global Teachers.

At School in Malawi

Sixteen Global Teachers went from Scotland this year, arriving in Malawi on Saturday 28th June. We were welcomed by a huge banner hanging from the balcony at the airport and all six of the staff from the Dedza office - there was no doubting that they were pleased to see us, a feeling that was to be regularly reinforced throughout our stay. On Monday 30th June there was an official welcome ceremony in the morning and then departure to our host schools. I think that this was the point at which most of us began to realise just how significant the Global Teachers Programme is, both to the country and to the individual schools. The welcome ceremony was attended by an official from the Ministry of Education in Lilongwe as well as all the district officials, and it became clear that almost everyone in the town, if not the district, knew who we were and why we were there. This year the Global Teachers were placed in 3 different zones: Kanyenda, Makota and Tchetsa. My school, Mlozi Full Primary School, is in Tchetsa zone. This is the furthest zone from the town, in the mountains (home from home), and has seven primary schools in total, five of which had a Global Teacher this year. In the afternoon, we left for our schools: 70 bone-shaking kilometres up dirt roads in the back of a landrover, with our heads making painful contact with the roof at intervals. As we had to stop at several schools, it was 5 p.m. before I finally arrived at my school, yet the headteacher, some of the other teachers and some of the pupils were still waiting for me, as they had been since school ended at lunchtime.

Schools in rural Malawi vary a lot in facilities and state of repair but can only be described as very different to Scotland! There is no electricity or plumbed water supply in the villages. In Mlozi School, none of the classrooms have doors or windows and few have desks, so children sit on the concrete floor. The oldest classroom block is in danger of losing its roof as termites have destroyed the main joists. There are only seven classrooms, but eight classes, so one class has its lessons outside - the problems with heat in summer and the rainy season can be imagined. Most classes have a reasonable number of textbooks, which are supplied by the government, but other books were rare - the school had one dictionary and one atlas. Jotters and pens are also supplied and the school has a (very) small budget to purchase further items, but this does not go far - there was one set of colouring pencils and just 2 balls for PE in the whole school.

Mlozi School is described as a Full Primary School - this means that it has all the primary classes from Standard 1 to Standard 8, unlike some schools. Children may enrol in school from age 6, although there is quite a lot of variation around this. Progression to the next Standard is dependent on passing exams at the end of the year. As many children miss a lot of school for many reasons, including illness and maintaining their family's livelihood, repeating years is common. Thus, there is a lot of variation in age in each Standard and by the time they reach Standard 8, most children were around 15 to17 years. There are about 840 pupils in the school in total, class sizes varying from about 250 in Standard 1 to about 40 in Standard 8. These children are educated by just 7 teachers, 5 of whom were qualified and 2 of whom were "volunteers". Their dedication is truly amazing, particularly as rates of pay are low, even by Malawian standards, especially for volunteers - a teacher earns around £40 a month and a volunteer around £10 a month.

School was supposed to start at 7.30a.m., with teachers expected to be there by 7.15a.m. However, for lots of reasons this didn't quite happen on most days. Before school, it was the duty of the pupils to sweep out their classrooms - I was pleased to see that this was a chore shared by boys and girls. The school day always started with assembly, and that usually involved some physical exercises to warm them up - although I found it hot, for them it was quite chilly being the middle of their winter, and in the last week even I found the wind cold in the mornings. There were also prayers, Muslim one week, Christian the next in this mixed-faith community, followed by notices and other words of encouragement. Finally we all sang the national anthem and then the children went to their classes.

Maths, Chichewa and English were usually the first lessons of the day, being regarded as the most important. Other subjects included Social Studies, Science, Creative Arts, PE, Agriculture, Life Skills and RE. Much of what was taught was reassuringly familiar, and very similar to what we teach in Scotland. Lessons for the youngest children, in Standards 1 and 2, ended at about 11 a.m., for Standards 3 and 4 at about 12 noon, and for Standards 5 to 8 at about 1 p.m. However, the Standard 8 pupils, who had their leaving exams in September, returned to class in the afternoons from 2 to 4 p.m. for extra revision lessons. On some days, all lessons stopped about 11 a.m. for whole school activities. The first week I was there, this was mainly for sports practice, as they had football and netball matches against other schools in the zone that week. On another occasion, it was for "activities" which seemed to include things like choir practice. Sometimes it was for "manual work" - helping to keep the school maintained and repaired: groups of pupils were given tasks such as mopping the classroom floors, helping to repair the borehole, and re-building the boys latrines (sadly mostly washed away last rainy season). On Fridays, the pattern changed again: as many of the pupils were Muslim, school ended at 10.30 a.m. in order to allow pupils time to prepare for mosque at 12 noon. However, once again Standard 8 pupils were back in their classroom for revision in the afternoon.

My role in the school, during the 3 weeks I was there, was not to teach but to support and advise the teachers. I spent a lot of time observing lessons and in discussion with teachers. We held meetings after school to discuss strategies for things like group work, interactive methods, questioning and peer assessment. I was pleased that my Malawian colleagues were happy to debate these issues with me and discuss their appropriateness in different situations - they had many good ideas of their own. I was really impressed with the teaching skills of some of my Malawian colleagues - I could learn lots from them - and their ingenuity in using what was available to enliven their lessons. Of course, being a teacher, I did end up teaching at times - team-teaching with colleagues or demonstrating new ideas - and it was great! The children were very enthusiastic and loved having "Madam Clare" in their class, although sometimes I did find the noise level much higher than I am used to - 150 Standard 2 pupils all keen that I should look at their piece of work takes some beating.

My other main area of work was assisting the Head Teacher, Mr Chimtali, with leadership and administrative issues. Although he has only been at the school since February, he is very enthusiastic, dedicated, in the face of significant challenges that would defeat most of us, and was clearly having a positive impact on the school. For the first time in many years, there is the possibility of a number of Standard 8 pupils passing the Primary School Leaving Certificate well enough to be selected for secondary school. This has been noted by community leaders who are more supportive of the school as a result. Administration in the school was a complete nightmare from my perspective - with no computers, photocopiers, or similar aids, it was a world away from what I am used to. Everything was written out by hand and there seemed to be an awful lot of it, some of which seemed quite unnecessary - but we always think that about paperwork! I watched the Head copy out monthly returns for the District Education Office in quadruplicate in some disbelief, but the real eye-opener was a letter to community leaders and parents, inviting them to the end-of-term ceremony, each of which was hand-written. Fortunately the older pupils helped! I got my own taste of this when the PEA asked me to write a report on the school, which I had to copy out three times. Despite these challenges, the records in the school were generally in good order, so all credit to them. I also met with many of the community leaders to encourage their continued support for the school and also to support the education of girls, which tends to be regarded as less important in some rural families.

In-service Training

A novel feature of the Global Teachers Programme this year was the provision of four days of in-service training to all the teachers in the zones where we had been working, which took place in the first week of their school holidays. This arose because the end of term in Malawi was earlier this year than it has been in previous years, and Link Community Development was keen to widen the impact of Global Teachers' work. For this part of our work, we were all based back in Dedza town where we worked together in groups to prepare the courses. That was definitely hard work - we had just two days preparation and there were many late nights as we tried to get it all sorted out. The topics covered were Leadership and Management, Participatory Methods and Continuous Assessment, Literacy and Numeracy and finally Special Educational Needs. In Tchetsa zone, we were also joined by teachers from neighbouring Chitundu zone, giving us about 45 participants on the first day (Leadership and Management) and 80 on the other days. It was somewhat daunting to say the least, but the sheer enthusiasm of our Malawian colleagues was an inspiration and a huge encouragement to us. We discovered during that week that this was the first time there had ever been any in-service training actually in Tchetsa zone and for many of the teachers, it was the first time in their careers that they had any further training.

Village Life

Mlozi School is in the village of Mitawa where I stayed with my host family, Mr & Mrs Sumani and their numerous children and grandchildren. Mitawa is very much a rural village, being about 7 km from the trading centre at Mayani and 70 km from Dedza town. Although in the towns and cities they have many of the amenities that we have - electricity, piped water, fridges, supermarkets, television, internet - the rural areas have none of these. My family have few material possessions by Scottish standards, but are relatively well off in the village.

Houses are built either of mud and thatch or, for wealthier people, of brick with a corrugated iron roof. There is a compound at the back with further buildings, including a kitchen, housing for animals, storerooms, latrine and a screened washing area. The compound is fenced to prevent hyenas taking animals at night. Most people get up around 5.30 a.m., as it is getting light. At weekends, I enjoyed observing and helping with the household routine: water was fetched daily from the borehole about 200m away; crops were harvested from the "garden" (a field some distance away); laundry was done by hand back at the borehole; cooking was over a wood fire in a hut in the compound which was very smoky.

"What is the food like?" is a question I have been asked many times since I got back - the honest answer is: remarkably varied, very healthy and LOTS of it. The staple food in Malawi is called nsima and it is like a thick porridge made from ground maize. It's rather bland so it is served with some type of relish. I was expecting to be served nsima for every meal, but in fact on most days I only had it once. For breakfast, I was usually given bread, but occasionally potatoes or porridge or eggs, and on one occasion some samosas. Other meals were either nsima with relish or based on rice or potatoes or sweet potatoes. The relishes varied: I got fish quite often, beans cooked with tomatoes, and various types of greens - cabbage, rape, bean leaves and pumpkin leaves. It was the wrong time of year for most fruit but I did get bananas sometimes and also lemons. Meals were large and I had difficulty persuading my host family not to feed me so much. Most of the food consumed is home-grown - maize, groundnuts, beans, potatoes, cabbages, rape, sugar cane and other crops. Cultivation of the crops is all done manually, using a hoe to break up the ground. Near the village, Save the Children have an irrigation project which means that crops can be grown all the year round. My host father, whose garden is part of this project, had maize at various stages of development and will hopefully be harvesting at different times throughout the year in future. This is an amazing project and I hope that it is widely extended. Families also keep animals for food, chickens and goats being very common. Fish comes mainly from the local rivers.

Despite the large amount of physical work required just to keep daily life going, everyone is very sociable. Perhaps because the weather is so hot, they take frequent rests and always stop to chat when someone comes by. Taking time to stop and greet people and to enquire after their families and health is a big part of Malawian culture. So is going visiting - many people came to the house to meet me and I was also taken to many people's houses. It was amazing to a European used to people rushing about and hardly having time to exchange two words. Then there were special events: in my 3 weeks in the village, I attended 2 weddings, a political rally, the church, the mosque, climbed a mountain and went to the trading centre at Mayani, always with a big entourage to keep me company.

It got dark between 5.30 and 6.00 p.m. and most people stayed at home after this. My family kept quite late hours compared to most people - we didn't have our evening meal until about 7.30 p.m. and often didn't go to bed until about 8.30 p.m. In contrast, most other people seemed to eat at about 6.00 p.m. and go to bed between 7.00 and 7.30 p.m. We spent the evenings listening to the radio and playing games. With an entourage of teenage boys in my family, evenings were pretty lively.

What Next?

In our community in the Gairloch area, as well as in our schools, there has been a lot of interest and curiosity about my visit to Malawi. I have been keen to build on and maintain this and a series of newspaper articles and a radio interview have been well received, with evening talks and slide shows planned. A group of pupils have also prepared an exhibition of photos, artefacts and gifts from Malawi, which is now on display in our public library.

It was always my intention that one part of my follow-up work would be to establish a formal link between the two schools. In both schools this would broaden pupils' awareness of the world, encourage them to think about and discuss global issues and inequalities, help them understand the culture and beliefs of another country, allow them to communicate with and get to know their peers and to work with them on joint projects. With the evident enthusiasm of our pupils, I have started this process earlier than I originally anticipated and our pupils have already sent their first batch of letters out to Malawi. In the future, I hope that this link will be extended to include some of our associated primary schools. I also hope that we will do some fund-raising for the Malawian School to help address some of the deficiencies in their infrastructure. I envisage this as a partnership project between the schools, with the Scottish partner contributing the cost of materials and the Malawian partner contributing the labour. However, I consider that it is important that we build a relationship between the schools based on friendship first rather than start with one based on money.

The main area of my follow-up work in Gairloch High School will be the development of a cross-curricular project with colleagues looking at different aspects of Malawian life, culture and environment, and linking this to some activities which already take place in the school such as the annual Malawi Backpack Appeal, in line with the requirements of a Curriculum for Excellence. This will initially be used with S1 pupils later this session and reviewed by staff and pupils. I hope we will be able to expand this work in subsequent years. In addition, some colleagues have expressed interest in using some of the resources I have brought back to further introduce a global dimension into normal lessons. The other area of my follow-up work will be working with the primary schools in our ASG using activity days to compare our lives in rural Scotland with those of children in rural Malawi.

Personal and Professional Development

Participation in the Global Teachers Programme has been described as "a life-changing experience" and as "the best cpd ever". Having travelled in Africa several times before, I expected to really enjoy my experiences and to find them very rewarding, perhaps "the best cpd ever", but I didn't really expect to find them "life-changing". I was wrong! It is very difficult for us to understand just how important it was for the school and community to receive a visitor from Scotland and how important having a link school will be to them. Equally, I don't think they really understand what a profound effect they had on me. Malawi is described as "The warm heart of Africa" and I will never forget the warmth of the friendship, the generosity of the people and their genuine care for me.

At a personal level, I was very pleased that I formed strong relationships with the teachers in the school as these will provide a firm basis to maintain contact and develop a link between the schools. I really enjoyed the simplicity of village life, even though I recognise that it entailed a lot of hard work that I didn't have to do. Actually living and working alongside local people is an incredibly valuable experience that one could never get as a tourist. It is such a huge honour and privilege. It has made me acutely aware of materialism and waste in our lifestyles in Scotland, and has also re-emphasised to me the value in taking time with people.

Applying my professional experience in a different culture and education system was very rewarding. I was anxious, as a secondary teacher, about how well I could contribute to a primary school in the classroom, but found many areas of commonality due to the age of the pupils and the demands of the curriculum. I was pleased to find many examples of excellent practice already in the school and I was able to use these to build on while I was there. They also made me reflect on my own practice in Scotland. As an unpromoted classroom teacher in Scotland, I gained experience in evaluating all the school's needs at once, including working through the school development plan with the headteacher and prioritising actions for my visit and working together to prepare a priority list for infrastructure repairs. I also experienced working with the headteacher to encourage community involvement and support for the school. My school in Scotland enjoys excellent community support so meeting with community leaders and having to justify why the school deserved their support and why education of girls was important was a challenge. Planning and leading insets for teachers, in my school and the zone, was largely a new experience for me. It was great to see the teachers in my school trying out some of the ideas from an inset I led in the school. The zone insets were probably one of the best parts of the placement in terms of impact over many schools. Working in groups of Global Teachers improved the quality of what we delivered and the feedback, verbally and on the evaluation forms, was very positive.

Both personally and professionally, it was important to try to see issues from a Malawian perspective. One of the biggest differences in attitudes between Malawian and Scottish schools is surely the attitude to time keeping which could perhaps best be described as very relaxed in Malawi. Although I was aware of this tendency from previous visits, I did find it quite frustrating when people were late, or didn't turn up, or disappeared. This was probably because I felt under pressure to achieve some sort of sustainable change in just a few short weeks, whereas in reality such changes are only likely to become evident over a much longer period of time, and I had to remind myself that LCD is working within the District and country for a number of years and that the Global Teachers Programme is only one element of the fuller project.

For me, being part of the Global Teachers Programme has been the start of something that is clearly going to have an impact on my life for years to come, both personally and professionally. It has provided an opening for something that could go a lot further, with huge benefits for both my Malawian and Scottish schools. In common with many previous Global Teachers, I plan to re-visit my school in Malawi and to continue to work with them, supporting the work of LCD, to help improve the education they offer to their pupils, at the same time learning from them and improving what I can offer my own pupils.

If anyone is considering applying for the Global Teachers Programme, I would say "go for it"! I was nervous about applying, not sure that I had the necessary skills or could apply them effectively in such a different situation, yet it has to be one of the best things I have ever done.

Clare Caley

Gairloch High School


For further information on the Global Teachers' Program Click here



Malawi wasn't in my thinking this time last year either. Events can sometimes overtake you, and so it happened on this occasion. An e-mail from Link Community Development (LCD) circulated by the regional education office, a decision NOT to bin it for a change, and before you know it you've had an interview and are trying to get your head round exactly why you had agreed to spend your Summer holiday working with fellow teachers in rural Malawi.

It was particularly interesting, since the LCD Global Teachers Programme (GTP) had, up to this point, dealt mainly with the Primary sector in Malawi. However, as a subject specialist, it was felt that a placement at a Secondary school would be more suited to me, as well as to my placement school. The overall briefing was helpful in terms of preparing for the experience of living without all of the “mod-cons”, but as the Secondary sector is different in many respects, (not least in that the students have had to pass their Standard eight exam and been selected to attend Secondary school) many of the workshops and suggested activities for dealing with issues such as really large class sizes, numeracy and literacy, and teaching techniques were less relevant to a placement in the Secondary sector. However, going into the “less-known” does give a certain edge and increases the challenge offered by the 5 week placement phase of the programme.

Working with Malawian colleagues was more than recompense for committing a summer holiday. The opportunity to do peer mentoring and find out how colleagues educate when they have virtually no resources certainly made me appreciate the first class facilities I have in my own school. Some of the students showed exceptional learning and reasoning skills, and it was a pleasure to teach, albeit for only a handful of lessons, students who could ask you challenging questions about radioactive decay only a matter of a few hours after the lesson. In that kind of environment you just want to do as much as you can while you are there. This Western mentality did perplex some of my Malawian colleagues a bit. They mentioned at the end of the placement that it would have been nice to have spent a bit more time “just chatting”.

The opportunity to live with a host family was also an excellent way to get a feel for what life in Malawi is like. Although I didn't have an “authentic mud hut” experience (my shed had some electricity supply and we could talk in the living room in the evening , courtesy of the single light bulb), it made me realise that a lot of the stereotypical ideas about Africa are really getting out of date.

Malawians made me feel really welcome and I very much felt part of the team by the time I had to leave. A lot of the adverse publicity since, regarding a particular situation in the Sudan, should not alarm you with regard to getting into difficulties if you decided to go on the LCD programme yourself. LCD has a well established infrastructure in Malawi, working towards self-sustaining staffing from indigenous teaching professionals. Anyway, any country where your host takes you to a Roman Catholic church service one Sunday, and a Presbyterian church service the next time has a lot to teach us about living in a global world.

More details on the SSTA website. Go on; you can do it!

Dr Archie Marshall

The Community School of Auchterearder

A more detailed report of Dr Marshall's summer at Linthipe Secondary School can be viewed here. Further information on the Link Global Teacher Programme can be found here.

Applications for placements for 2008 can be made now. the deadline is 31 January 2008.

Link Global Teacher Programme

SSTA member Dr Archie Marshall, was one 17 Global Teachers who traveled to Malawi this in 2007 to work individually and in small groups to support the development of:

  • Teaching methodologies & classroom management

  • Specific curricular/learning areas

  • School development planning

  • Lesson planning

  • Assessment and evaluation

  • Resource management

  • School management, record keeping and administration

During their placements, the Global Teachers lived with host families in their homes within the school's community for five weeks - giving them a real insight into life in Malawi - an extremely valuable experience to take back to Scotland to inform teaching and learning about global issues.

Read about Dr Marshall's experiances at Linthipe Secondary School, Malawi during the summer of 2007 here. Further information on the Link Global Teacher Programme can be found here.



The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey is the most comprehensive and rigorous international yardstick of secondary-school students' attainments. PISA 2006 was held in 57 countries that together account for nearly 90% of world GDP. It tested students on how much they knew about science and their ability to use scientific knowledge and understanding to identify and address questions and resolve problems in daily life. It also examined student performance in reading and mathematics, and collected data on the student, family and institutional factors that can help explain differences in performance. Full details and analysis will be published by the OECD at 9.00 a.m. on Tuesday 4 December 2007.

Margaret McKay's Experience

Mganja School, Dedza, Malawi Link Community Development placed me in a community of nearly nine hundred pupils from age 6-17 who are powerfully motivated by the opportunity of free primary education. Set between Dedza and the Lake with the nearest trading centre a good one and a half's hour walk on a pitted dirt road and overlooked by the Kirk Mountain range and a huge electricity pylon, Mganja School is a eye-catching campus.

It is here that the children experience warmth, respect and stability from their eight teachers in dilapidated classrooms spread around a central courtyard of grass and low hedges. Every morning at 7.30am three days a week and 7am for assemblies twice a week children gather quietly dusting ,playing and preparing for the school day, having done their household chores before arriving. Their motivation and sense of mutual cooperation are exceptionally high. Singing and making music are a large part of school life. I was deeply moved each day when the whole school sang the Malawian anthem. Football and netball matches bring the school to life on Saturdays when a match is keenly anticipated and a football found.

The working day begins well before 6am for the Head and around 6.30am for others and might end at 3 or 4 pm, even 5pm on some occasions. This on 5000-8000 kwachas a month ( £20-30) and housed in what a Malawian colleague described to me as “miserable conditions”. The ability of a Head and seven staff to lead and inspire so many children earned my complete respect and commitment. The largest class, Standard 1, contains two hundred and twenty six pupils, the smallest, Standard 8, thirty eight. In Standard 8 are the lucky boys and girls who have made it through adversity and are sitting the Primary School Leaving Certificate as I write. There are fourteen stools and desks in the whole school. The United Nations World Food Programme sustains the children each day with meals of soya and maize porridge (phala). There is no running water or electrical power.

Having listened to the Headteacher's priorities, we worked on recording a realistic action plan incorporating the core needs of Mganja School over the next three years – permanent toilets to avoid a cholera outbreak, a library to establish a love of reading and a safe playground area where games could be developed. The whole staff discussed the way forward, giving me many opportunities to develop a rapport with each of them. I was very lucky to make so many good friends. Asking for volunteers to attend in-service sessions on additional support needs and the care and use of books for reading for pleasure was easy, so keen are my Malawian colleagues to learn, improve, make a difference. I was pushed hard to deliver answers to their concerns which only helped me to improve my communication skills! All welcomed feedback on their teaching.

I found myself welcomed as a member of my host family into the heart of one of the villages surrounding the school where the expectations of me were high. Not only to learn Chichewa well but as a critical friend –to praise good practice, to understand the needs of the school, to respond to their challenges, to report on the experience on my return. I met with the Headmen/woman of the village communities and with all the various school committees who grilled me eagerly on my lifestyle in the North while thanking me for my involvement with their school. On every occasion the atmosphere was friendly, welcoming and professional.

The Dedza Highlands is a truly wondrous part of Malawi. I was privileged to find a placement which fulfilled me. My days were filled with music and harmony. I heard no raised voices AT ALL in the school or its grounds. Yes, I've left my heart with the people of Malawi.

Margaret McKay

Lochegelly High School


Summertime for many teachers is a time to kick back, relax and recharge before another school year begins. But at least two SSTA members are spending their summer holidays travelling to destinations around the world to share their knowledge and skills with fellow teachers.

Margaret Mackay, a teacher at Lochgelly High School, is currently spending five weeks in a rural community in the Dedza district of Malawi. She will work alongside the Head and staff at the local school where classes have over 100 pupils and minimal resources. She will be helping to develop leadership and management skills and teaching practice in the school. “I have found the ideal opportunity to use my professional skills where it really counts – to help make poverty history,” Maggie said. “”¦ I know I will learn so much which I can share with my pupils in Lochgelly High School on my return.” Following her return from Malawi, Maggie will work with students in her school to raise awareness of global issues such as fair trade, equality, justice, and examine ways to change the world for the better through recycling and sharing of resources. She hopes to forge a long-lasting link between Lochgelly High School, Denend Primary School and her school in Dedza.

Maggie is going to Malawi as part of the Global Teachers Programme, run by the international charity, Link Community Development (LCD), with funding from the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) and a contribution from the SSTA. Fellow teacher Catherine Baker of Kelso High School will also be travelling south to work as a volunteer with LCD for a five-week placement in South Africa in July, funded in part by the SSTA. Catherine also participated in a 48-hour sponsored fast to raise money for her placement. “I am confident that this experience will provide me with a fresh challenge and enable me to further broaden my horizons,” Catherine said. “It will also provide me with a deeper insight into another culture, which I will in turn be able to use to educate my students and broaden their horizons further than the rural community they live in. The experience will take me out of my comfort zone and re-energise and influence my passion for the education of the whole person, and the contrast with my own school and education system will be enlightening.” For more information on Link Community Development's Global Teachers Programme, write to or phone 020 7691 1818.



Summertime for many teachers is a time to kick back, relax and recharge before another school year begins. But at least two SSTA members are spending their summer holidays travelling to destinations around the world to share their knowledge and skills with fellow teachers. [Further information]

Margaret Mackay, a teacher at Lochgelly High School, spent five weeks in a rural community in the Dedza district of Malawi. She will work alongside the Head and staff at the local school where classes have over 100 pupils and minimal resources. Read about some of Margaret's experiences here.