Denis Robson, from the Thondwe Community Forum, brings us the latest news from the group...

Pupils at St Ronan’s Primary School in Innerleithen have been embracing their partnership with the pupils in Thondwe Primary School in Malawi.

The school partnership committee comprises of a pupil represen-tative from each class and they have already swapped valuable cultural ideas with each other.

Miss Bean recorded the St Ronan’s pupils asking questions about Thondwe Primary school and when she visited the school in Malawi she showed the video to the children there.

They recorded their answers and asked questions of their own.

Ronan, the school bear, travelled to Malawi with the visiting group and his adventures were recorded through photographs which enabled the St Ronan’s pupils to really identify and make a connection with their new Malawian friends.

St Ronan’s pupils learned that most of the Malawian children walked five or six kilometres to school each day for a 7.30am start.

They had a couple of breaks during the day and returned home at 2.30pm when they had their lunch – the primary school population for Thondwe is more than 2,000 therefore providing school meals is not possible with their current facilities.

One girl said that when she came to school each day, she brought a large bucket to fill at the stand pipe at the end of the school day and take home for her family to use.

There are roughly 90 to 100 learners in each crowded class. There are not enough desks and chairs so most pupils sit on the floor and, those who can afford to, bring notebooks and pencils to school each day. Otherwise the expectation is that pupils retain their learned knowledge. There is no power supply at the school and so staff teach to the best of their ability with the few resources they have – flipcharts, felt pens and chalk are already in short supply this year and therefore flexibility and creativity are the words of the day. Despite the challenging learning and working conditions, there is an incredible thirst for learning and enthusiasm to teach from both pupils and staff.

It was sheer joy to be witness to their engagement in learning and interest in how we taught. And they were desperate to know more about Scotland and the people here. For regular updates check out our Facebook page: @InnerleithenWalkerburn TraquairThondwePartnership