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School for Women and Girls Project
Summary & Objectives
Women do most physical work in Malawi and they are seldom able to remain in school, as girls, beyond the 3rd or 4th grade. Whereas the Malawian Government provides for free education through the 8th grade, few girls make it that far. Gender inequity issues are the norm within the society and they are strongly manifested in the schools. Girls suffer from sexual harassment even to the point of rape, on and off campus at the hands of both the boys and male teachers. As a result very few girls graduate from high school and even fewer ever make it to college. Hence, the female population is generally subservient to males and suffers the plight of having to work long hard hours at physical labor. Approximately 75% of the farmers in Malawi are women and they generally have little more than basic tools, and poor soil, to carve out an existence for their families. Husbands have the authority to handle all money and can have more than one wife.
Essentially, the Country suffers by the fact that virtually 50% of the population remains poorly educated and that same group is held subservient to the male population. In an effort to create a more equitable, and progressive, social structure we plan to build a school for women and girls in a village located about 20 kilometers from the Capitol City of Lilongwe. Nejewa Village is accessible to the highway and has the rare source of electricity. Land has been designated for the school and permission has been granted to establish it by the village headsman.
In the course of two meetings with the village headsman in July of 2007, Dr. Snyder has been able to outline plans for the school that will house women, and their children, so that they will be safe from predator males. Girls and disabled people will also be able to attend this school. Plans also include construction of a primary school for local children who cannot safely attend an elementary school located in an area on the opposite side of the highway. The schools will be supported by a collection of nonprofit enterprises (e.g. paper making factory, bakery, possibly a yogurt production plant, etc) that will provide employment opportunities for villagers with all profits going to support the schools. In this way, the schools will eventually be come self-sustainable while the villagers become employed.
Teachers of this school will represent a mix of Western and Malawian educators. Quality education practices will be stressed while sensitivity to the culture will be maintained. The school will not be faith-based although classes in, "Bible Studies" will be provided as part of the curriculum.