Working with local teachers to support girls’ and women’s education in Malawi

Gallastegi, Lore and Cullen, Jane (2014). Working with local teachers to support girls’ and women’s education in Malawi. In: Gender and Education Association Biennial Interim Conference 2014: Gender and Education in the Asia Pacific: Possibilities and Provocations, 09-11 Dec 2014, Melbourne, Australia.



One of the challenges many countries in the ‘global south’ face is the lack of female teachers who can act as role models in schools. The Open University (UK) and its international research and development initiative TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa) have been involved in educational projects in Malawi with the aim of increasing the presence of females in primary schools for a number of years. The projects have supported local women from rural areas of Malawi to work alongside primary teachers as Teaching Assistants. At the same time these women have been studying for secondary school exams which could offer them a pathway to further study or a work opportunity beyond school. During their time in the project, the women have been supported by distance learning materials produced by the OU and by practicing teachers who act as mentors and tutors. The OU has developed the project framework and resources in collaboration with Malawi educationalists benefitting from their local indigenous knowledge of the curriculum and of the challenges faced by women in rural areas of Malawi.

This paper will describe the framework and the different elements of the project, as well as the roles of different educationalists in its development. It will consider the challenges the project has faced in its implementation and the strategies it has used to overcome them. Finally the paper will offer some conclusions on emerging possibilities as a follow up to this project in Malawi and explore its duplication in other countries.

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