During our visit we went to meet our students at Chancellor College. What a treat to meet such out-going, friendly young people. We have 7 students at Chancellor: 3 studying Bachelor of Education & Humanities; 1 Social Science student; 2 Law Students; 1 IT student; and Ethel Banda who is doing a Masters degree in African Social History. Some of these students have been funded by Nchima Trust since secondary school.
What became apparent was the desperate shortage of books in the college library. They told of the scramble at 8.00am every morning to be the first
in the queue to get in and hopefully find the book they need. The subterfuge to make sure they can get a book when next they need it. Hiding it in the wrong place so they can go straight to it when next needed and their anger and disappointment when they find the book they want, only to find the relevant chapter has been torn out.
They have access to the Internet but due to over-use it is slow and often their time runs out before they have downloaded and printed the required material. All assignments have to be typed on computers but there aren’t enough computers for them to get enough time to complete work as many are often not working.
We asked them what family pressures they had, they all agreed that they were expected to help their families back in the village. Their pocket money MK25000 (£86) per year was stretched to full capacity. As well as maintaining themselves they were expected to use some of this money to pay school fees for younger siblings. The one thing they all stressed was how grateful they are for the help we give them and were quick to point out that we were not only educating them, but other family members.
This visit made us realise how important Tertiary Education is to Malawi and what problems students face, all done with one aim to be able to better themselves and educate younger members of their families.