Five people from one of the world's least developed countries have moved to the next phase of their American education.
group of teachers from Malawi - an African country that ranks among the
world's most densely populated - headed to Madison Elementary School on
Monday. There, they will spend three days visiting classrooms and
studying administrative duties like budgeting, faculty evaluations and
The five, who are all students at Lakeland College, plan to return to their African country in May to train new teachers.
embracing our children back home, and you are looking to more people to
(help) so we can continue building schools instead of (teaching) under
trees," said Rebecca Makanga, 33, one of the teachers.
teachers are the latest soon-to-be-graduates of the Malawi Teacher
Education Initiative, a partnership among Lakeland College and the
Malawi and U.S. governments.
Each year, those groups foot the bill for five teachers from Malawi to live in Sheboygan County and attend Lakeland.
teachers spend three years studying for their bachelor's degrees in
education. They then return to Malawi, where they eventually work for a
teacher training college.
Since the initiative began in 1999, it has brought 50 teachers to Lakeland.
you're trying to develop a country, helping that country's education
system is really the place to start," said program director Jeff
Elzinga, a professor of writing at
Lakeland, once worked as a U.S. diplomat and lived in Malawi for three
years. When he returned to Wisconsin, he wanted to continue helping the
"It's one of the poorest 10 countries in the world, but it's a tremendous resource of people with a desire to learn," he said.
of the biggest struggles the country faces - aside from a rapidly
spreading AIDS epidemic - is a shortage of schools and teachers, the
Massive political changes in 1994 led
to the abolishment of education fees. Student enrollment nearly
doubled, and schools have struggled to keep up.
The Malawi Teacher Education Initiative helps "beef up" the number of teachers, said Fabson Chambwe, 36, a teacher.
tough. Malawi is poor, and being poor the government cannot manage to
do everything on its own, so we have fewer schools," he said.
program, which has a rigorous application process, forces the students
to leave behind their families in Africa. Most have spouses and
"It's the love of our country. There was a need of more teachers. That's why we sacrificed," said Moses Madzedze, 36.
Sheboygan County students are learning from the Africans, too, said Madison principal Matt Driscoll.
can learn directly about another culture and country from someone who's
actually from there," he said. "It's not a textbook in social studies.
It's not a video. They're learning from an actual person."
five students - including Tamara Mabviko, 36, and Nancy Nyirenda, 36 -
will return to Malawi in May and officially graduate later this year
after stints in Malawi schools.
The next group of students arrives in the U.S. in August.