Patricia Khomani, an accountant and tax consultant, believes that finances should never be a reason why a child does not go to school. She, however, also understands that in the Malawian setting, it does not always work that way.
Many children are unable to go past primary or secondary school levels because their parents cannot afford fees. Some resolve to piece work to supplement their parents’ income to feed their families.
But a number of youths and organisations have stepped up efforts to assist those in need with school fees in an attempt to reduce illiteracy levels in the country.
The Dress Project, run by Jocelyn Kumwenda and Jody Stephenson is one such effort. United World Challenge Malawi Chapter is another organisation ran by three local trustees, Jayne Munthali, Milika Kalyati and Zione Ntaba, that is sourcing scholarships outside the country for undergraduate students.
There are many others, and Maphunziro265 has joined the bandwagon.
Khomani is one of about 10 young people that have come in under Maphunziro265 to provide scholarships to deserving young people that might not afford further studies, college or secondary school.
“I believe the youth are the future of the nation and if we want Malawi to be a better place we desire then we have to invest in the youth of the country. Not only the advantaged ones but all Malawian youth.
“It was for that reason that I decided to take opportunity of the platform that Maphunziro265 created in providing scholarships to those that are in need,” says Khomani.
Maphunziro265 was established against the backdrop of several Malawian children and youths not completing their education for lack of school fees and other scholastic materials, according to the co-founder of the initiative, Tendai Katsonga.
Several organisations and individuals have stepped in to provide bursaries and scholarships but the challenge remains that many needy youths are not aware of the scholarships.
On top of that, Katsonga says individuals who are aware of the opportunities sometimes do not have the support to make strong applications.
With the help of Ndindase Munthali, 19-year-old Madalitso Nelson is happy that he can now work at realising a better future for himself through a scholarship from Maphunziro265.
“I am in Form two at Lunzu Secondary School and I am happy to have been awarded a scholarship. My mother does not work, and I have never known my father. I will do my best to do well in school so that I impress my sponsors and not be let down,” says Nelson whose school fees has recently jumped from K35 000 to K52 000 per term.
Maphunziro265 is like a directory of scholarships where funders submit their scholarships and needy students can access them. Katsonga confesses that the response from scholarship seekers has been relatively low even though numerous youths could appreciate the benefit.
“The concept of making applications to support people’s education is relatively new because in our culture we do not necessarily make applications to get support for our education. A moving story is enough for one to secure a scholarship,” she says.
The lowest scholarship available so far is K20 000 which covers school fees for three terms at a Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) where fees is K6 500 per term. The highest scholarship is the Shaibu and Miriam Mapila Scholarships for Girls worth K1 million. This scholarship targets five bright girls in Mangochi and Nkhata Bay.