Penicuik pupils celebrate long-standing partnership with ‘Malawi Day’

Gemma Burns, Scotland Malawi Partnership Youth and Schools Officer, speaking at Penicuik High School's Malawi Day. Photo Bailey Dickerson
Gemma Burns, Scotland Malawi Partnership Youth and Schools Officer, speaking at Penicuik High School's Malawi Day. Photo Bailey Dickerson

Around 600 Penicuik High School pupils spent a 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.

Malawian dance lesson at Penicuik High School's Malawi Day. Photo by Bailey Dickerson.

Malawian dance lesson at Penicuik High School's Malawi Day. Photo by Bailey Dickerson.

Earlier this year the Penicuik High School Malawi Group, made up of young people from across the school, won funding from the Scotland Malawi Partnership to support the Malawi Day event.

Rachel Andrew, principal teacher of modern languages at Penicuik High School explained why Malawi Day took place last week. She said: “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 had smiles on their faces and everyone said they had a good day. 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.”

Malawian drumming lesson by musician Davie Luhanga aka Street Rat, at Penicuik High School's Malawi Day. Photo Bailey Dickerson

Malawian drumming lesson by musician Davie Luhanga aka Street Rat, at Penicuik High School's Malawi Day. Photo Bailey Dickerson

S4 pupil Anna Fergusson, one of the pupils involved in the group, was delighted to see the entire school learn more about Malawi. Speaking on Malawi Day, she said: “I’m definitely passionate. 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.”

Penicuik High School has had a link with Malawi since 2005 and has worked with a couple of schools. The latest partnership with Namadzi Secondary School in Zomba began in 2016. Two teachers from Namadzi have already visited the school and there are plans for 10 Penicuik pupils to visit Malawi in 2019.

One of the main aims of this trip is for the pupils at both schools to share their own culture with one another - a theme Mrs Andrew wanted to mirror with Malawi Day.

She said the partnership is “not about charity” and that it is very important to invest all pupils in the partnership, not 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.

“We have been able to do some things to improve communication at Namadzi and to improve resources there through textbooks, laptops and things like that. But it is really important that everyone understands that this is not a one-way street.

“This is very much a partnership where we will both benefit and we will both learn from each other.”

The Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) is the national civil society network coordinating, supporting and representing the people-to-people links between Scotland and Malawi. It is one of the largest cross- community international development networks in the UK.