Penicuik High School was transformed for the day as the entire school celebrated ‘Malawi Partnership Day’.
Around 600 pupils from S1 to S6 spent the day learning about the educational and cultural links between Scotland and Malawi.
As well as taking part in Malawian drumming workshops with musician Davie Luhanga, cooking traditional Malawian dishes and learning about the country’s national language Chichewa, the day also had a focus on the history of the relationship between Scotland and Malawi and the part Dr David Livingstone played in establishing this friendship.
Penicuik High School has had a link with Malawi since 2005 and has worked with a couple of schools, with their latest partnership established with Namadzi Secondary School in Zomba, Malawi in 2016.
Two teachers from Namadzi have already visited the Midlothian school as part of the partnership and there are now plans for ten pupils from Penicuik to visit Malawi in 2019.
One of the main aims of this visit is for the pupils at both schools to share their own culture with one another - a theme teacher Rachel Andrew, principal teacher of modern languages at Penicuik High School says they wanted to mirror with their Malawi Day in the school.
Taking place on October 12, Mrs Andrew says the partnership is “not about charity” and that it was very important to invest all pupils in a partnership, rather than just those going on the trip.
“We are hoping to establish a really sustained long-term friendship between our two schools,” she said.
“So it is important for all of the pupils in our school to have an understanding of what our partnership is about, what the aims are and what we are looking to do next because we are going to need everyone’s involvement in order to make it a success.
“It is not about charity,” she added. “We have been able to do some things to improve communication at Namadzi and to improve resources at Namadzi through textbooks and laptops and things like that, but it is really important that everyone understands that this is not a one-way street.
“We need to do some of that in order to enable an equal partnership, but this is very much a partnership where we will both benefit and where we will both be able to learn from each other.
“One of our main aims is to learn about the culture of our two countries and we are hoping in the future to be able to establish links between pupils.
“I do think it is such a rewarding experience for staff and pupils. The pupils have been going around today with smiles on their faces and everyone I’ve asked says they have had a good day and I think there’s a real buzz in the school about the partnership and some excitement about how we are going to take things forward.”
In early 2018, the Penicuik High School Malawi Group - made up of young people from across the school- entered a competition to win funding from the Scotland Malawi Partnership to support the event which celebrated the links between young people in Scotland and Malawi. They were successful with their bid to hold a Malawi Day that would involve the whole school.
S4 pupil Anna Fergusson, one of the pupils involved in the group, says she was delighted to see the entire school learn more about Malawi and their partner school.
“I’m definitely passionate, that’s probably one of the smallest words you could use,” Anna says.
“It is one of my biggest cravings, for the partnership to grow and expand but it is really important that we all take part because we are the future and we are the people who are going to be taking it on and hopefully will expand it so everybody becomes involved.
“Obviously, we can’t take everybody out to Malawi but hopefully, by doing this today, people will have an awareness and want to get involved even more in it.”