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World Poetry Day

In preparation for World Poetry Day, we organised a Poetry competition as a joint project with King Edward’s School, Birmingham, UK.

We invited learners to write a poem for World Poetry Day, and our English teachers studied the submissions and picked the best in each grade. Colleagues in the English department at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, UK, then selected the three winners.

They chose a poem by Universe Phiri, in Grade 9, as the school’s overall winner. Here are the Judges’ comments:

This is an incredibly powerful and poignant poem about oppression and injustice. The way Universe uses end-stopped lines in the second half of stanza three reflects the barriers and restrictions she captures so movingly in the second half of the poem. As judges, we found this poem so powerful we could not help but feel outraged, distressed and heart-broken after reading it.

Later this year, we will reciprocate when King Edward’s School organises a poetry competition for its secondary learners and we will have the privilege of choosing, and commenting on, their best poems.

The photo is Universe receiving her prize on World Poetry Day from Ms Sakuwaha.

Our Valentine

On 14th February, our Grades 6 & 7 learners visited one of our local ‘compounds’ to read traditional African Stories to the people who live there.

During the cholera-extended end-of-year break, our staff managed to download, print and spirally-bind another 380 stories from the EU’s African Storybook website. Learners chose a book each and read their story to everyone they met – adults, children and groups of local people.

We do this every term: it’s important for learners from more affluent homes to experience how ordinary people live – and it boosts our learners from these communities to be able to ‘show-off’ their learning to their friends and neighbours.

Spectacular achievement

Tamika Simpamba, in Grade 11 this year, has been selected to play for the Zambian U17 women’s football team. It is a spectacular achievement.

Two years ago, Tamika had never left our local compound and had only played football barefoot on the school’s uneven, bare-mud pitch. Now she is representing the nation in stadiums around Africa.

We are thrilled with her progress, and wish her every success.

Welcome

This year, we have welcomed two new secondary teachers: Mr Fred Kunda and Ms Tawanda Phiri.

We recruited Fred from a school in Lusaka to teach Integrated Science and to transform the way we use the science laboratory.

Tawanda comes from Cholwe to teach Commerce, Accounts & Business Studies and to use her commercial experience to help us develop the business laboratory.

We are thrilled by both appointments and look forward to what they are going to help us achieve.

Wonderful exam results

We were thrilled by our learners’ results in the 2023 national examinations.

95% of our Grade 7s passed and proceeded to secondary education – compared to an average of only 69% across all other schools.

96% of our Grade 9s gained their School Certificate and moved on to Upper Secondary education – when the national average was only 53%.

And 87% of our Grade 12s were awarded a National Certificate, when the average of other schools (including all selective, boarding and STEM schools) was only 67%. Plus, 56% of our Grade 12s did so well that they qualified for enrolment in an degree course at a university (if they can manage to find sponsorship or a scholarship).

Special congratulations to Stella Bwalya in Grade 12, who scored the highest mark in Mukwashi history.

Poem Wins International Prize

We’re thrilled to announce that, this past term, a poem written by a small group of our Upper Secondary learners was selected to be performed at the opening ceremony of an international conference in London. It was then featured throughout November at the art exhibition linked to the conference.

The poem ‘Education Colonised‘ was written by Maliwa Kutempa, Hellen Chibale, Lydia Mulundika, Tina Zulu & Elisabeth Mayanda during a poetry project led by their English teacher, Ms Luyando Sikamikami.

Luyando thought the work so outstanding she entered it in a competition organised by the international charity ‘Debt Justice’. The whole school was amazed and incredibly proud when we heard the news that the poem had been awarded first prize.

Our learners were then asked to perform their poem outside the school so it could be videoed and shown at the exhibition. It’s been a great learning experience for us all – and has been a big boost to our learners’ confidence in their own ability and creativity.

Some more ‘tools’ for Mukwashi

In the past few weeks, we’ve been able to use the generous gifts we’ve received to purchase some more of the resources and equipment we need.

We’ve now bought all the equipment we need for our livestock studies, and are already using it in our agricultural science lessons. Here are some of our Grade 10s learning to use an ear-tag applicator – which is an important part of keeping good records of your animals.

We’ve bought 50 ‘Lohmann Brown’ chicks (it’s a German breed of hen) which will join us once they are 18 weeks old, and we’ve also purchased two Saanen goats (a young male and a pregnant young female). Saanen goats are milk producers, and our learners are all looking forward to becoming highly-skilled hand-milkers.

We’ve also commissioned a local craftsmen to make 45 stools for the science laboratory. It’s better to invest the funds we receive in the local economy rather than buying cheap imports. He’s just completed the first ten, and the others will be made by Christmas.

Examination month

November is non-stop national exams.

Our forty Grade 7s were the first to be tested, and this year their exams were even more important. The government has recently decreed that only those who pass their G7 exams can now proceed to secondary education, so the pressure is on those who are academically less able.

This photo was taken minutes after our G7s completed their exams – and we’ll learn their results at the end of next month.

Our sixteen Grade 12s were the second set of candidates, and they’ve just finished all their papers. In Zambia, the G12 certificate is more like the IB than A levels, with learners needing a good pass in English and five other subjects. Ours have been examined in eight subjects: English, Maths, Agriculture, Integrated Science, Commerce, Accounts, Civic Education and RE.

In theory, the Zambian Grade 12 certificate opens the door to the world of higher education. In reality, few of our learners will go to university because their parents cannot afford the fees – and the chances of a scholarship are tiny. Because of this, we held a special ‘graduation ceremony’ just before the G12 exams to mark the end of their time at Mukwashi. We made the event as special as we could for our leavers and their proud parents and carers.

Next week, our Grade 9s start their exams. In many ways, these are the most important exams of the three – as the Grade 9 certificate is the passport to a professional job in Zambia.

Some ‘Tools for Mukwashi’

The school has started using the funds it’s received to buy the ‘tools’ it needs. We began by investing in professional garden tools for our staff and learners to use in their Agricultural Science lessons.

We’ve spent £500 on 2 bow saws, 2 club hammers, 3 axes, 4 sprayers, 2 spades, 5 forks, 10 slashers, 17 watering cans, 20 hoes, 20 trowels, 20 rakes – and the parts to install 5 stand-pipes in our ‘ag lab’.

Our secondary learners are delighted to have proper tools to use on their plots. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.

Design & Sew

We try to provide our learners with a balanced curriculum which builds good character and stretches them academically, but which also equips them with some deeply practical skills which are relevant to local community life.

This term, in ‘Expressive Arts’, Ms Nkhoma set our 40 Grade 7 learners the project of designing and hand-sewing themselves a skirt.

This week they presented their skirts to the rest of the school – and we thought you would enjoy seeing their handiwork.