Help children to improve their English so they are able to progress through school. In Malawi all subjects are taught in English from fifth grade.
About the Program
As a teaching volunteer 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. You will assist with curriculum subjects in the mornings, including English, maths, and sciences and in the afternoons you will take extra-curricular classes.
We recommend that you communicate openly with your local teaching partner to establish how you work best together and you may be of the greatest assistance to them. For the first couple of days you will probably just observe the lessons, but we suggest that you start to get involved as early as possible to make the most of your time as a volunteer. Initially you will spend most of your time assisting, but as you become more confident, or if you have subjects that you are stronger in, you may agree to start planning and leading some of the classes. You are not expected to do anything that you are not comfortable with, but are there to help with the large class sizes and ensure all students are receiving sufficient attention. If you do not feel confident doing something that has been asked of you then discuss this politely with your partner teacher.
You will generally finish at about 11.00 in the morning and will have a welcome lunch break during the hottest part of the day. Depending on the season and the activity you are taking you will then return to school at about 14.00; possibly as late as 15.00 if you are coaching a sport. Afternoon activities take place Monday to Thursday and you will usually return to the volunteer house by 17.00. Friday afternoon is free time, as you may be departing on an organised weekend excursion.
The project co-ordinators will try to involve you in the activities that you are most interested in. However, please be flexible, as we rely on volunteers to maintain the continuity of certain clubs and activities and if there are relatively few teaching volunteers when you are there these activities will take priority.
Afternoon activities vary between schools. They include:
Schools in Malawi
If you have not spent time at a school in Africa before, you should be prepared that schools in Malawi are certainly not like those you will be more familiar with in the UK, or your home country. There is relatively little structure and time is often not a priority (although this does not apply to you, as we expect you to set an example and be punctual).
Resources are extremely limited at most schools, 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 don’t have them already you probably will do by the end of your volunteer programme. If you come prepared for this it will not take you long to get used to how things work, you will enjoy the experience and will find teaching the children very rewarding.
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 an appropriate manner.
You should be 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.
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.
The school day starts early in Malawi, after breakfast at the volunteer cottage you will depart to your teaching placement at a school located a short distance from the volunteer cottage, ready to start teaching at 7:30am. You will spend the morning at the Primary school before returning to the volunteer cottage for a welcome break at the hottest part of the day. Lunch will be prepared for you and you will have several hours to relax and plan your sessions before departing for extra-curricular activity clubs in the afternoons.
Volunteers should arrive on a Monday.
The project is based in a stunning location by the beach, with the volunteer cottage overlooking Lake Malawi. There is something for everyone in Malawi, whether you have a love for wildlife, hiking, watersports or just relaxation on the beach, you will be able to do so at weekends. Safari destinations and mountainous areas are just a few hours from our project location, within easy reach and the project location is on a beautiful stretch of the lakeshore with many beaches to explore. Malawi has previously been in Lonely Planet's top 5 for best in travel destinations. It really does have something for everyone, with every budget.
You may choose to spend your weekends kayaking to a remote island, relaxing at the beach, scuba diving, horse riding, hiking or wildlife watching. There are historic sights that can be visited. You can of course also spend your weekends at the volunteer cottage, immersing yourself in the local community, watching traditional dancing, getting to know the culture, walking to nearby villages or going to school sports tournaments.
The programme fee includes your accommodation whilst at the project, three meals per day, transfers to and from Lilongwe International airport on set arrival and departure dates and 24/7 support from our onsite coordinators.
When arriving on one of our set arrival dates you will be met at the airport by one of our coordinators and transferred to the cottage in the volunteer minibus, this is included in the programme fee. It is approximately a 3.5 hour journey from Lilongwe. If you book to arrive outside of the usual arrival and departure dates you will need to pay for a private transfer which we will be happy to arrange for you, the cost is usually around $175.
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 ensuite 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.