2023-06-02 MALAWI

Closing Ceremony of Project New Horizons in Lilongwe

A Milestone in Education and Child Empowerment

On May 26th, an atmosphere of celebration and accomplishment filled the air in the Likuni boys school in Lilongwe, Malawi, as the closing ceremony of Project New Horizons took place. The event was graced by esteemed guests, including the Vicar General Luis Carlos Gutiérrez, the director of the Secretariat of Education and Evangelization, Pepe Sánchez, the director of FMSI Andrea Rossi as well as numerous important local and national authorities, such as the district leader and representative of the Ministry of Education. The national press also gathered to witness and report on this remarkable milestone in education and child empowerment.

Project New Horizons, which commenced in 2019, has made a significant impact on education across six countries: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. From its inception, the project’s objective extended beyond mere awareness-raising activities centered on equity, social justice, and inclusion. While these issues are undoubtedly crucial, the stakeholders involved recognized the need to transform schools into havens for the protection and empowerment of children.

The project was built upon four pillars that served as the foundation for its implementation. Firstly, it aimed to increase access to quality education, particularly for girls from impoverished and marginalized families. Recognizing that education is a fundamental right, New Horizons prioritized making education accessible to all children.

The second pillar focused on child safeguarding, aiming to strengthen the capacity of Marist Schools to eradicate violence and discrimination against children in both school and community environments. By ensuring the well-being of children, the project aimed to create safe spaces that foster growth and development.

Enhancing the quality of education stood as the third pillar. New Horizons sought to equip school leaders and teachers with the necessary tools to drive improvements in education standards. By enhancing their capacity, the project aimed to provide a more enriching and responsive educational experience for vulnerable children.

Lastly, the project emphasized the reinforcement of child rights within the educational system. Through advocacy initiatives, the program empowered institutional and governmental actors to protect and uphold the rights of children. This included submitting Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) for Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and South Africa, amplifying the voices of vulnerable children and ensuring their rights were at the forefront of policy discussions.

Project New Horizons embraced a result-oriented approach, considering these four pillars as outcomes to be achieved rather than mere activities to be implemented. This approach led to the development of practical strategies, such as affordable school fees for low-income families and second-chance learning opportunities for children and young adults who had dropped out of school. The project also extended support beyond regular school hours, keeping facilities open to promote continuous learning.

To address child safeguarding, the project worked on improving Child Protection Policies in all 21 schools, empowering teachers and staff to actively prevent violence. Additionally, efforts were made to strengthen governance and ownership at both school and community levels. Capacities were built in school leaders and staff to design education investments and manage community learning environments effectively. Income-generating projects were also implemented to enhance sustainability.

Raising the quality standards of education necessitated enhancing the capabilities of teaching staff. Teachers were provided with the necessary training to deliver curricula that catered to the specific needs of vulnerable children. By empowering educators, New Horizons ensured that children received an education that was relevant and responsive to their unique circumstances.

The project’s impact extended beyond Marist schools through a robust stakeholder engagement campaign. By sharing advocacy schemes and tools with non-Marist schools, the project encouraged the adoption of inclusive policies and practices. This approach resulted in a wider reach and positively influenced the quality of education and access to education for vulnerable children. Simultaneously, it contributed to the overall strengthening of the educational system in addressing inequalities.

The closing ceremony of Project New Horizons in Lilongwe, Malawi, marked a momentous occasion in the pursuit of educational equity and child empowerment. The project’s four pillars served as guiding principles, transforming education systems and making a tangible difference in the lives of countless children. As the event concluded, the spirit of collaboration and commitment to creating brighter futures for vulnerable children continued to resonate. Project New Horizons has set a remarkable precedent, inspiring similar initiatives worldwide to prioritize the rights and well-being of children within educational systems.

The success of Project New Horizons can be attributed to the dedicated efforts of its management team, led by the project manager Br. Mark Omede. With his exceptional leadership skills and strategic vision, Br. Mark ensured the smooth coordination and implementation of the project across multiple countries. Working alongside him was the Regional Coordinator Br. Francis Jumbe, whose extensive knowledge of the local context and strong organizational abilities played a pivotal role in driving the project’s impact. The financial officer, Br. John Bwanali, assisted by its counterpart at FMSI Marcello Romagnoli, skillfully managed the project’s resources, ensuring transparency and accountability in all financial matters. Additionally, the unwavering commitment of the Child Protection Officer, Br. Fortune Chakasara, was instrumental in establishing robust safeguarding measures and ensuring the well-being of children remained at the forefront of the project’s activities. Together, this exceptional management team provided the guidance and expertise necessary to bring Project New Horizons to fruition, leaving a lasting legacy of educational transformation and child empowerment in their wake.


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