2018 has been a period of both consolidation and further development for the Trade School at Mtandika. The school is now fully registered with the Government's Vocational and Educational Training Authority [VETA] as the St Agnes Vocational Training College. The tailoring and electrical courses are now well established, with ten girls on the former course and eighteen boys and four girls on the latter. With the completion of the boy's dormitory last year, the eighteen boys on the Electrical course are all now living at the Trade School and are fully integrated into life there.
The practical work resulting from the courses is of a very high standard. An example of the products from the Tailoring course are the wedding dresses shown below. For their part the Electrical students have all been out on secondment to the state electrical company or private companies and received excellent reports. In some cases, they received job offers prior to graduating. One practical exercise on site for the Electrical students was the re-wiring of the solar panels that activate the solar pump.
To provide a further variety of courses, it was decided to start a new course in Hotel Management. The new building to house the course will double up as a classroom, as well as a canteen. Kitchen equipment and cooking utensils are yet to be installed. The course is scheduled to start in 2019 when the fitting out of a new block is fully complete.
Discipline is a major part of life at the Trade School and the students are up soon after 6.00am to collect water, tidy up the main quadrangle and wash and get dressed in their school uniforms. This is followed by a parade at 7.30am where the students perform basic drill exercises and sing the National Anthem, prior to any announcements for the day being made. Classes start at 8.00am and continue, with a short break for breakfast at 11.00am, until lunch at 1.30pm.
In the afternoon the students will help with tasks around the college and grounds eg digging and irrigating the shambas [allotments], preparing and cooking supper etc. Later in the afternoon there is an opportunity for sport, with the girls playing netball and the boys soccer. After supper at 7.00pm the students continue studying until late.
The Trade School continues to give the students a broad based two year education, which as well as teaching them tailoring and electrical skills now includes English, Maths, Computer Studies and general subjects such as Business Studies and Entrepreneurship. As well as the principal Tailoring and Electrical teachers, there are now English and Maths/Computer teachers at the school.
In 2018 there were seventeen graduates, three from the Tailoring Course and 14 from the Electrical Course, with the star pupil on the latter being a girl.
Some 10 of the 30 Trade School students who are orphans or from very poor families, are sponsored through the generous, regular donations from our long term sponsors. In addition to the older students, there are ten orphans from about 13 years old down to 5 years, who live at the Trade School and go to the village Primary School. Although Primary education is meant to be free, there are inevitably costs which need to be covered.
There are also some 20 older students, who are orphans or from very poor families, who need funding to continue their education at Secondary and University/Technical College level. Some of these are shown here, sisters Consalata and Clesensia who are at Secondary School and Maria who is starting at university.
Although we have many long term sponsors, we always have children who need funding to carry on with their education.
With increasing costs over the years and the depreciation in the value of the Pound of over 20% in mid 2016, we need an increased amount of money to cover the overall educational costs.