MSPC started in 2015-16 at Mkondezi School in Nkhata Bay, Malawi to provide interested teachers with the information, training and resources they would need to run an after school permaculture club at their school which could welcome up to 40 pupils.
Club activities are a mixture of theoretical and practical sessions around the school and in individual garden plots, where everyone is a volunteer. Interested teachers are trained for a week in the summer holiday before the start of the school year. Each school identifies a day in a week for holding sessions in the afternoon. Each club cover 21 Permaculture sessions in a year of 3 terms, which make 7 topics per term. The schools are provided with prepared lesson plans, as well as seeds and materials.
The topics are ordered in such a way that their activities tally with the three Malawian seasons. During the dry and hot season, the clubs are preparing activities, which represent term 1. Planting activities (term 2) are made in the raining & hot season, while harvesting and other activities (term 3) in the cold season.
Introduction to Permaculture
Healthy soil and mulching
Preparing garden beds
Protecting the garden
Community of plants
Healthy soil-going deeper
Pest and disease control
Designing our space
Visit to another Permaculture site
Reviewing and improving school design
Hosting an Open Day
Transport and communication are expensive and limited in Malawi becoming a massive constraint on many development projects. We aim to decentralise key parts of the programme to ensure that links and resources are built up around the schools. We therefore created Teacher Meetings that are held in geographical clusters twice per term. Two permaculture teachers from each school gather in a selected school, which rotates between each school.
The Teacher Meetings provide a platform for instructors to discuss the sessions, share successes and challenges and empower one another. Being held at alternating schools allows the teachers to visit schools in the area with similar envrionment and see examples of how different ideas may have been implemented.
It is an opportunity for the teachers to ask for specific advice from their peers, as well as to share resources, seeds and ideas.
At the end of our first year at Mkondezi School, we held an Open Day to highlight the great work being done by the teachers and pupils, but also to see if there were other schools that were interested in doing the same things. It was a huge success and we continue to hold annual Open Days at each school.
We developed guidelines for the schools' Open Day, creating different stations around the school. These stations are close to practicals that are done during the year, with various posters and handouts explaining more about the principles behind permaculture and the changes people are seeing. The stations have included topics such as: Introduction to Permaculture, Soil Health, Water Management, Local Resources, Sustainable Food Production and Nutrition.
An Open Day is the perfect opportunity to explain to community members what permaculture practises the school has been focused on throughout the year. It improves the confidence and embeds the permaculture knowledge of the children as they explain the permaculture ideas to the wider community. It is also to inspire new schools to join the programme. Self-selection is integral to MSPC and in order to sign up, a school must attend an Open Day.
Visits To Another Site
We support every school in visiting another permaculture site as one of the yearly sessions. These visits are a way to inspire children by showing them that they are not the only people practising permaculture. They get to see first-hand how techniques can be applied in various ways. Permaculture solutions are not the same everywhere, they diff depending upon the environment of the area and the needs of the people involved. The objective of the visit is to have a fun day out and to improve links between permaculture members in their area.
In addition, the children take a group quiz on permaculture and the techniques they see. This enables us to see how the take-up of information has been throughout the year and incentivises the children to learn as they receive a small educational prize.