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Through teaching and sports you can make a real difference to the lives of the local children. Help and support teachers at a rural school in the mornings and get involved with sports coaching in the afternoons; sessions which the children really look forward to which help focus their minds and provide a beneficial and rewarding activity.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over half of the population living below the poverty line and an average daily income of less than 50 pence. Many schools have a ratio of between 100 and 150 students to each permanent teacher, so these schools really need your support.
All children in Malawi are entitled to free primary school education. However, this is often of a low standard, particularly in rural areas, due to very large class sizes, which may exceed 100 students. Resources are extremely limited in some schools; children will sit on the floor and often do not have exercise books, pens, or pencils. There are often not even enough classrooms, so younger classes may be taught outside, under the shade of a tree, with children writing their answers in the dirt.
This project is based in the Mangochi District at the southern end of Lake Malawi, where there are a number of rural schools that are seriously under-funded. These schools do not have the resources or sufficient teachers for the huge number of children that attend each school.
This is why we need your help as a teaching and sports volunteer in Malawi. English is an important subject that you can help to teach effectively, as well as other core subjects, including maths and science Noticeable improvement in exam results have been made at the schools in which volunteers have been assisting, so you really can make a difference.
Afternoon sports sessions are really popular with the children. They help to focus the children’s minds and give them something fun to look forward to in the afternoons!
Volunteers will be able to really get involved with the project by helping to improve the education of children that are eager to learn. As well as teaching the children you will also be able to teach adult education classes, providing skills development to rural communities and help teachers with their computer skills, as part of our initiative to introduce IT to schools and communities.
You will assist in one of the local primary schools, unless you have a lot of teaching experience, in which case we may ask you to assist at a secondary school. Assist with curriculum subjects in the mornings, including English, maths, and sciences and in the afternoons you can get involved with the sports coaching sessions such as volleyball, football, netball and rounders. You’ll be able to help organize sporting activities, teach new sports to the children, coach them in their sports sessions and even play football against the local team – don’t expect to win!
You will generally finish at the school about 11.00 in the morning and take your lunch break back at the volunteer house, which will give you a chance to cool down during the hottest part of the day! You will then typically return to school at about 15.00 for the sports coaching. Friday afternoon is free time, as you may be departing on an organised weekend excursion.
Sports sessions are great fun and can be very rewarding. For boys football is the most popular sport in Malawi, as in most of Africa, and for girls it is netball. Teams usually meet every afternoon to train or play matches.
Your role will be to work alongside the local coach or teacher (where there is one) to assist with:
With your enthusiasm these new skills, drills and techniques will really benefit these budding future stars! The involvement of volunteers encourages more children to participate in sport and the training sessions. This is important in terms of their health and fitness, personal development, such as learning team skills, and involving them in a positive activity in their free time. Occasionally local tournaments can be organised between nearby villages or schools, which will provide your team an opportunity to show off their new skills and fitness.
Other sports that you may coach or get involved with include cricket, volleyball and swimming. If you have a particular sport that you would like to coach please let us know.
Please note that only basic equipment is available for these sports and due to the climate, conditions and everyday use the teams are always in need of new items, especially footballs. If you would like to and are able to bring a football or sports equipment with you it will be very much appreciated by us and your team!
Be prepared that schools in Malawi are not at all like those within the UK, or your home country. There is relatively little structure and resources are extremely limited, so you will need to be creative in planning your lessons! You may have little more than chalk and a blackboard and if you have this you’re off to a good start. Do not expect all of your students to have exercise books and pens, or pencils either. Initiative, motivational skills, flexibility, patience and a positive sense of humour are all useful traits to have as a teaching volunteer in Malawi.
If you would like to bring any teaching aids or educational materials with you these will be gratefully received and useful. Please speak to the project co-ordinators about anything you have brought as a donation on arrival to ensure that it is given in a fair and appropriate manner.
You should be also aware that corporal punishment is permitted in Malawi and it is not your place to get involved should you witness this. If you are unhappy with a situation, simply remove yourself from it.
In Malawi there are three school terms each year, the dates of which are more or less in line with those in the UK. The longest holidays are during the summer, with shorter breaks around Easter and Christmas. The exact dates tend to vary a little each year and are often not confirmed until the last minute.
During the holiday periods teaching volunteers are involved with additional classes that are usually held in the mornings. These will be supplemented by activities and lessons organised and motivated by you with the support of the co-ordinators and school heads. These activities are welcomed, as they keep a lot of the children off the streets and out of trouble.
You may teach arts and crafts, music, drama, extra English and reading, wildlife and environment classes, and coach games and sports, depending upon your personal interest, or skills. You will need to be motivated and proactive in arranging these activities and encouraging the children to attend.
You will arrive on the Monday evening and will probably be quite tired after travelling, so you will have dinner, meet the other volunteers and settle in to your room.
On Tuesday morning you will have an orientation at the house that will cover:
In the afternoon you will be taken on a familiarisation tour of the local area and nearest town, including the local market there. This will provide an opportunity to buy cheaply priced local material for wrap-around skirts if you need to.
You will stay in a shared volunteer house in a small village about 14 kilometres south of Monkey Bay. The house is located in a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Malawi at its southern end. Malawi and the area that you will be volunteering is very safe, but the house is also fenced and gated to offer additional privacy and security. You can soak up the sunshine in your free time in the spacious garden overlooking the lake.
Depending on which school you are teaching at, which you will be advised of on arrival, you will either walk into school through the village, or will be transferred in the project vehicle.
The bedrooms in the volunteer house are large shared rooms, generally with bunk beds and mosquito nets are provided. They either have en-suite facilities, or a shared bathroom, with western style flush toilets and showers. The water is cold, but most of the time in Malawi this is quite welcome after a hot day volunteering. The house also has electricity, but power cuts are not uncommon and can last for a couple of hours, or occasionally longer.
The staff at the house consists of a cook to prepare the meals for you, a housekeeper to do the cleaning (although you will be expected to do your bit to keep the house tidy and clean up after yourself) and night watchmen.
Three meals per day are provided. Breakfast usually consists of toast, or pancakes and tea/coffee. Lunch will be self-service, consisting of pasta, soups, sandwiches, or similar, or a packed lunch if you are not returning to the house in the middle of the day. A hot dinner will be prepared for you in the evenings. The cooks do a very good job of catering for you and can accommodate most dietary requirements. However, please be aware that ingredients and supplies can be limited, seasonal or particularly expensive in Malawi, so there is not always a wide variety of food available.
You are lucky enough to be staying in a volunteer house right on the edge of Lake Malawi and have the sparkling waters to swim in each day. At weekends you may either relax at the volunteer house, or if you would like to see some of the highlights project staff will arrange this for you.
Weekend trips can be organised to visit:
Organised weekend excursions are not included in your programme fee and should be paid for locally. They usually cost about $150 per person, including transport, 2 nights’ dorm room accommodation, 3 meals per day and a staff member to accompany you as your guide. We would recommend doing a couple of these groups trips during your stay to see a little more of Malawi.
You should arrange your return flights to Lilongwe International Airport (please do not do so before we have confirmed your booking). A project staff member will meet you at the airport and will transfer you to the volunteer house, which is approximately 3.5 hours drive from Lilongwe. You will be transferred back to Lilongwe by road at the end of your volunteer programme.
You should arrive before 14.00 on your project start date. If you arrive, or depart outside the specified dates, or after 14.00, we will need to arrange a private transfer for you, which will cost $175 per person one way.
Whilst you are at the teaching project in Malawi the project co-ordinators will be available to provide assistance and support 24/7.
Should anything arise that they are unable to resolve then you can also contact our UK office by email, or telephone. You will also be provided with an emergency contact number in the UK before you depart, which should be used for genuine emergencies only and out of normal office hours.
Depending on your previous experience you may be required to complete a basic weekend, or online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. If you have limited teaching experience we would recommend this anyway, as your experience and the value you bring to the project will be improved by the teaching ideas and confidence that you will gain.
Malawians believe that appearance is important and whilst teaching, females are expected to wear long skirts that come well below the knee and tops that cover your shoulders and cleavage. Males should wear smart trousers and a shirt with a collar.
Please remember to be respectful and considerate if you wish to suggest any improvements, or new ideas that you feel would benefit the project. Staff at the schools and projects may have different cultural expectations and values to those that you believe to be right, or appropriate. They may work to Africa time, which at times may seem relaxed to the point of being horizontal. However, the co-ordinators have much more experience at managing local project relationships than you, so ask for their advice if you are unsure about something and please listen to it. Who knows you may even learn to relax a little more yourself!
Minimum age is 18. There is no maximum age, as long as you are fit and healthy enough to participate in project activities.
Below are some of the feedback comments submitted by volunteers on the Lake Malawi Teaching and Sports Volunteer Project.
“I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the work, it has been the best experience of my life to date and I am happy that I had the chance to make a difference. I enjoyed the lifestyle and living in Malawi, the people and the places I have seen and the things I have done on the projects that have made people happy.”
“I really enjoyed my project work. The combination of sports and teaching was just perfect. The children in Nkope are just amazing! I enjoyed working with the large groups in my first week. The games we played with them were just amazing. I also enjoyed the soccer matches against the village team. It’s just a pity that we lost both times!”
“A very nice experience, I would do it again if possible. I enjoyed seeing the smiling kids everyday and playing football with the village team.”
The Lake Malawi Teaching Volunteer Project has a start, or arrival, and departure date every second week on a Monday.
You should arrange your flights to arrive into and depart from Lilongwe Airport for the set dates.
5th, 19th December
2nd, 16th, 30th January
13th, 27th February
13th, 27th March
10th, 24th April
8th, 22nd May
5th, 19th June
3rd, 17th, 31st July
14th, 28th August
11th, 25th September
9th, 23rd October
6th, 20th November
4th, 18th December
See the Price Guide at the top right of this page.