International Partnership - Developing Computing as a subject in Malawi
Jamie Chadwick is Director of Technology Enhanced Learning at Alderley Edge School for Girls and is a Computing at School Master Teacher. He regularly volunteers his time and expertise to support other teachers and children learn about Computer Science across the UK but this year, his support took on an International element.
In May 2018, he travelled to northern Malawi to support three schools with the development of Computing as a subject. Alderley Edge School for Girls and staff from the University of Manchester travelled out to Malawi in support an outreach project organised by the charity, Ripple Africa.
Ripple Africa are a small charity that are making a huge difference to education, healthcare and the environment in this part of Malawi. Their motto is ‘providing a HAND UP not a HAND OUT’ and this is just one of the many amazing projects that Ripple undertake.
The project’s main aims were to improve the facilities within the three schools and to develop the skills of the teaching staff there whilst also delivering a programme of lessons to each year group of students.
In just five weeks, the staff out there (Jamie Chadwick and 6 other Master Teachers from the NW of England and undergraduate students from the University of Manchester Computer Science department) were able to ensure:
The equipment in each school was fixed and maintained giving teachers and students access to ICT and ICT labs were set up and functioning.
Staff and students were trained in basic computer maintenance.
New equipment was donated to the school such as a suite of Raspberry Pi computers, BBC Micro:bits, and code bugs to aid the teaching of Computer Science.
Students received 5 weeks of discreet Computer Science lessons. By the end of the project, the students were confidently programming in languages such as Scratch and Micro Python and developed a good understanding of the theoretical underpinning of Computer Systems, such as the role of binary representation in computers.
· The Master Teachers and their schools raised over £6000 to fund longer term projects such as the building of a Computer Lab at Kapanda School which began during the project, £1200 of which was raised by Alderley Edge School for Girls.
A Computer Science certificate, endorsed by University of Manchester is currently being finalised. This will give students at the three schools a valuable qualification which will help them in the job market or with university applications.
Jamie is in still in contact with the teachers at Kapanda School and offers help on lesson planning and curriculum design. The School is now involved in talks with Ripple Africa to organise a separate outreach project involving Sixth Form pupils at Alderley Edge School for Girls becoming volunteers and working on other projects that Ripple Africa deliver to ensure that as a School we can continue to support and have an impact in the area.
Projects such as this provide lasting opportunities and benefits for local communities and improving access to life-changing technology, skills such as these are fundamental in supporting developing countries and we were proud to be a part of it.