Watson’s Malawi School Partnership 2023
01 August 2023
George Watson's College focuses on providing long term support across four areas of concern - education, health and wellbeing, sport and culture and the environment. Their pupils are encouraged to get involved in the SMP throughout the academic year, drawing on resources from the GWC community to assist in the ongoing quest to ease the deprivation overseas.
SMP member George Watson's College caught up with Millie (former S6 and Class of 2023) who shared her reflections of her time in Malawi and involvement in the recent SMP Youth Festival - the first in-person event of its kind since 2019:
“The Scotland Malawi Partnership is an incredible initiative which raises awareness and encourages support to reduce poverty in Malawi. This year, I was fortunate enough to visit the country and engage with our partner schools which proved to be an enlightening and poignant experience.
"Our time at MCV Secondary School and Bolera Palms Primary School was particularly interesting. At MCV, we were able to really connect with the pupils due to the fact that we were all around the same age. We spent one of the days doing paired analysis of poetry and discussing the theme of identity, which allowed us to compare our cultural differences and similarities. We also visited the fabric factory where students are able to learn tailoring skills, allowing them to generate income out of all sorts of wonderful clothing items and accessories.
Bolera Palms, on the other hand, was a very different experience as it was a much smaller school for younger pupils. When we were there we took part in paired reading activities and helped them write and respond to letters from Bruntsfield Primary School. One of the most important parts of our visit to Bolera Palms was our discussion with the girls about sanitary products and the emphasis of keeping girls in school.
Following this, we also visited STEKA, a home for vulnerable children, rescued from abusive or forlorn situations. During our time there, we took part in discussions with children of all ages on current topics such as health, climate change and inequality. We learned a huge amount about issues we had never considered before and, as with all our partnerships, the visits were equally thought provoking and eye opening.
Fast forward a few months and we were invited to present our experiences and celebrate global citizenship at the Scotland Malawi Youth Festival 2023. The event took place at the City Chambers in Edinburgh and was a brilliant opportunity for pupils across Scotland to network; exchanging ideas and knowledge of our relationships with schools in Malawi.
As many of us had been fortunate enough to have visited Malawi already, we were able to fully participate in the various discussions and presentations, sharing our own first hand experiences.
The highlight of the event was a visit from SMP’s Patron, HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, who came to speak to us about how important taking action is to solving problems in Malawi. We presented a poster to her about our partnerships with MCV, Bolera Palms and STEKA, before exploring the importance of keeping girls in education and providing pupils with not only educational, but vocational skills to increase employability amongst young people. We also discussed the recent cyclone in Malawi which has caused devastation across the country and severely impacted all aspects of Malawian life. We spoke at length about how vital it is, now more than ever, to utilise the partnerships we have with Malawi in order to help.
Throughout the Youth Festival, we took part in a variety of workshops including music, fashion and food insecurity; gaining new perspectives from other pupils through active discussions. There were also round table debates on broader topics, most specifically focussing on what it means to be a global citizen and what this means for us in our partnership with Malawi.
Engaging with other schools and hearing their perspectives was very interesting as it was clear they had similar objectives to us regarding their partnerships with Malawi. Each school had unique approaches on how they wanted to tackle these goals, allowing us to broaden our outlook when considering different issues.
Throughout the discursive activities, one element rang true - we all have a shared ambition to see a better future for the people of Malawi.”
Photo credit: Kirsty Stroma Photography.
For more information on Watson’s Malawi Partnership, please click here.