Teacher Aide Program
Even though primary school is free in Malawi, students are far from guaranteed a successful education. Malawi is struggling to reduce an enormous teacher shortage of over 12,000 primary school teachers. As teacher training colleges rush to address the problem, many schools are failing and students are being left behind.
In 2008, HELP launched its ambitious teacher aide (TA) training program to mitigate Malawi’s most debilitating challenge to primary education. After a successful pilot version at HELP’s flagship Nanthomba Full Primary School, the program was extended to several neighboring schools. HELP now employs over twenty TAs at a total of four schools throughout the catchment area.
The nearby Kafulafula Primary School is a telling illustration of the effectiveness of the program. Because of the teacher shortage, the government is only able to allocate seven teachers for the school’s 840 students. To assist the school in reaching an effective student to teacher ratio, HELP matches all seven government teachers with a TA. They work together to give each student the attention they need, bringing the student/teacher ratio down from an overwhelming 1:120 to a manageable 1:60.
Small Investment, Big Impact:
Because primary schools in Malawi do not require tuition fees, donors are not able to provide scholarships to primary school students as they would for secondary school students. But that does not mean that the primary education system is not in need of support. In fact, primary school students greatly benefit from outside support.
With an average salary of roughly $75 per month, TAs are an excellent way to invest in primary education. Over 2,300 students in HELP’s primary school network depend on the TAs to provide them with the educational support they need to continue their education. Going by the numbers, each TA improves the education of approximately 110 students.
At a total cost of only $1,500 a month the teacher aide program is extremely cost-effective. In other words, HELP’s teacher aide program greatly improves the primary education for over 2,300 students for less than a dollar per student.