To what lengths would you go to make sure your daughter has a good education? One grandmother in Malawi took extraordinary measures to make sure her young granddaughter stayed in school

Five-year-old Adija lives in Chisopi Village in Malawi. In this remote area of the country around 85 per cent of children are orphaned. Many, like Adija, live with grandparents or extended family.

Many of these orphans do not have the opportunity to go to school; they are expected to work in the fields or in the home. Even if they do go to school, the standard of education is very low – with some teachers managing classes of over 100 children.

In spite of this, Adija’s grandmother is determined that her granddaughter will not miss out. When she heard that Mbweni school, a recently-opened school in her village, was accepting enrolments for the pre-school, she was the first in line to sign Adija up. This Christian school with small class sizes and quality teaching is supported by The Freedom Challenge.

Adija’s grandmother was very excited when she heard that Adija had been accepted to the school. Adija, however, was less enthusiastic. She had never been apart from her grandmother for any length of time and didn’t want to go.

Although it was the planting season, Adija’s grandmother committed herself to take Adija to school every morning. But on her first day Adija did not want to stay in the classroom, she tried to follow her grandmother home.

But this did not deter the grandmother. She made a plan. The next day she stayed with Adija at school all day. She is old and unwell, so the teacher provided her with a reed mat that she could use to lie down on and sleep during the lessons. Adija was much happier; she had the security of knowing that her much-loved grandmother was not far away.

The grandmother did this for three weeks, until Adija was happy to stay in the school on her own.

This was a huge sacrifice for the grandmother. She is from a Muslim background,” explained Adija’s teacher Lovedale. “Putting her granddaughter in Mbweni School, most probably was a high risk for her and her family.”

What commitment and insight the grandmother’s actions show; she realizes just how important education will be to the future of her little granddaughter.

Did you know?

  • 31 million girls of primary school age are not enrolled in school
  • If all mothers were able to complete primary education, maternal deaths would be reduced by two-thirds, saving 98,000 lives *
  • If all women were able to have a secondary education, child deaths would be cut in half, saving 3 million lives* 

*According to UNESCO