1 North Carolina A&T State University (UNITED STATES)
2 University of North Carolina at Wilmington (MALAWI)
3 Alamance Community College (UNITED STATES)
4 Greensboro, North Carolina YMCA (UNITED STATES)
5 Domasi Demonstration Primary School (MALAWI)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 494-500
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Since 2004 university students and faculty from the U.S.have worked a month each year with change agents in Zomba District, Malawi, on community-based participatory action research. This paper provides challenges, strategies and accomplishments to date from this trans-global effort.

Each yearl faculty and participants from previous years outline existing challenges as presented to them by Malawian educators and community members, for in-coming team members. Participants then connect through email, phone and postal mail with Malawians to plan together. Preparation includes co-planning with team members from previous years; regular communication with in-country partners; learning a local language; studying Malawian culture, history, and politics; and preparing for project implementation. Many partners who do not travel to Malawi participate as pen pals for Malawian children, youth and teachers; and thof rough networking for fund-raising and provision and preparation of supplies.

Documentation strategies include participatory action research (McIntyre & Lykes, 2004) and indigenous research methods (Chilisa, 2012) that explore the contexts, values, customs, practices and beliefs (Hofstede et al., 2010) that undergird learning, teaching and leading. Data collection includes interviews and participant observation (Perakyla & Ruusuvuori, 2011), "power sensitive conversations" (Haraway, 1988), oral history (Gluck & Patai, 1991), document and artifact analysis (Potter & Wetherell, 1987), and case analysis including theoretical sampling (Flyvbjerg, 2011). Collaborators examine transcripts and analytic memos (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2009). Final products are co-authored to ensure integrity of depictions.

Challenges to Malawian children and youth are many. One adult in 5, one child in 10 tests positive for HIV/AIDS. The only current correlate of remaining disease-free is staying in school. However Standard 8 exams in English, and the cost of school fees, uniforms, shoes and school supplies, severe restrict access to secondary education. Malawi's universal public education intitiative began only in 1994 and there exists a shortage schools and teachers. Class size is over 100 learners who come to school speaking as many as 17 different local languages, while school is taught in only one of these, with English taught as a second language, and all instruction and textbooks in English from Standard 8 forward. Hunger keeps children from attending school, and older girls may miss a week of school each month as they begin cycling. Teachers have little preparation or opportunities for inservice development. School writing materials are nearly non-existent, and textbooks, if available, must be shared across many learners or used by the teacher only in many cases. Yet through our collaborations over the last 10 years the Standard 8 exam passing rate has gone from 3 out of 65 to 67 out of 67, more youth are attending secondary, girls now attend regularly, and more teachers are attending college.

The capacity for sustainable responses generated by U.S. based students and faculty working side by side with Malawian change agents is profound. Building from this work we are now assisting Malawians to represent what learning, teaching and leading mean in their cultural context 20 years after universal public education, and 40 years after independence.