With 50 percent of students in Malawi dropping out of school by fifth grade, the Malawian government decided to try a new approach: it introduced an innovative national curriculum, which today is rapidly gaining in popularity among teachers and students alike.
The curriculum, titled Primary Curriculum Assessment Reform (PCAR), initially met with some resistance. Teachers lacked training and were unfamiliar with the concept of more active, student-focused classrooms. But thanks to radio broadcasts developed by EDC, more teachers and students are now embracing PCAR.
Called Tikwere! (“Let’s climb!” in Chichewa, one of Malawi’s national languages), the radio broadcasts are a key component of PCAR. Tikwere! uses interactive activities, such as songs, games, and group work, to engage students and teachers on such topics as literacy, numeracy, English, and life skills. The broadcasts reach 800,000 students and 8,000 teachers in 5,300 schools across the country.
Tikwere! aims to improve student achievement, increase enrollment, and address obstacles faced by girls and those who must travel long distances to get to school. Teachers have already noticed an increase in attendance. “Teachers are very quickly adopting the program into their classrooms,” says EDC’s Simon Richmond. “They thank us for making their jobs easier and for giving them better ideas for how to teach a concept.”
Originally published on July 25, 2008