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DNS Mzimba Parent Testimony: Ovaline Phiri

Ovaline Phir to the right Malawi37-year old Ovaline Phiri lives in Chirewa Village with her husband and four children (two boys and two girls). She herself was forced to leave school when she was in Standard 6 to take over household management when her sister fell sick and had to visit Lilongwe with her mother regularly for treatment.
"If it was not for these difficulties, I would have stayed in school as long as possible and for this reason I want my children to have the best education I can provide for them," she explains. "My oldest son has learning difficulties and we had to take him out of school as they cannot accommodate him. My other children go to school every day, one is in Standard Four, another in Standard 8, and one in Form Three."
Ovaline's children go to a primary school collaborating with Mzimba Teacher Training College, run by HPP member DAPP Malawi. Trainee-teachers at Mzimba TTC carry out their practicum training at the local primary school. One of DAPP's objectives for the teacher training program is to increase the amount of female teachers in primary schools, particularly in rural areas.
DAPP recently carried out a study on knowledge, attitudes and practices surrounding education in communities where Mzimba TTC collaborates with primary schools and communities where it has no presence. Findings showed that in communities where the College does have presence, parents generally reveal more positive attitudes towards the importance and benefits of primary school education for both boys and girls and also demonstrate more awareness surrounding gender-based violence and discrimination issues, as well as advances in sexual and reproductive health rights.
"It's really important to me that my children have female teachers, especially my daughters. I'm so glad they have a female teacher they can go to her about personal things, like their periods. A female teacher is much more accessible and understands girls' needs and challenges, much more than a male teacher would" Ovaline remarks.
She also believes it is important for both girls and boys to receive training and information about teenage pregnancy and early marriage so they can make good decisions for themselves and be equal partners in their marriages. She herself has taken an active part in village efforts to eliminate early marriages. "With the school management committee, I work with traditional leaders and parents to encourage them to send their children to school. If someone wants to marry of their child, I go to the headman to see if we can postpone it. My ultimate goal is to end child marriage so that all children can finish school."
"The student teachers who come to Chirewa from DAPP are very much appreciated. My children have been able to learn from them, through the remedial classes that they conduct for children who are struggling in class."
"I would really like it if my children carried on these student-teachers' work and become teachers themselves in the future"

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