Developing partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE) is a seven-year project which supports partnerships between universities and other higher education institutions across the world.
The aim of the programme is to contribute to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These goals fall into eight areas:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
(British Council Learning)
Committed fundraising has seen both staff and students from the University visit Malawi. They first helped open a science laboratory in the country in Easter 2006 and it was then recognised there was a need for additional teacher training. Further successful visits at Easter time from 2009 have continued the relationship.
The project started with PE teachers being retrained and updated by the University's staff and students but in 2010 was extended to include Science, English, Maths and Life Skills. Life Skills covers topics such as sexual health, nutrition and moral issues, while PE covers teamwork and leadership skills as well as a variety of sports.
The Faculty of Education, Sport and Tourism, which is based at the Bedford campus, was awarded a £20,000 grant from the British Council to support Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to teachers in rural Malawi, in partnership with St Joseph's Teacher Training College.
All five subjects will be delivered in four-day sessions, repeated annually over the three years.
Students have had to raise their own money - more than £1,000 each - to pay for airfares and accommodation and fundraising initiatives have included sponsored runs and swims, cake stalls, cocktail parties, quiz nights and Zumba dance classes. Barn dances at Bedford, which have included raffles and auctions, have raised more than £2,500 and this money has been used to buy resources for the project
Although the student teachers in 2011 and 2012 were very committed to raising funds and giving their time they all believe they gained so much from this unique experience:
'For me, Malawi was the experience of a lifetime. On a personal level, it has made me reflect on the things we take for granted in our lives, for example clean water, safe roads, a good health system...
'...As a trainee primary school teacher, it also made me realise how lucky we are to have the education system that we do, and how education is even more important in countries such as Malawi, as it is the best route out of poverty.'
'Learning to teach with so little taught me just how much could be achieved. The teachers responded so positively to all the sessions even though we had so few resources.'
'This experience has definitely impacted on my teaching in the future. I would love to teach in Malawi for years to come.'
'The experience has shown me how privileged we are in the UK, we take so much for granted.'
'I have learnt more in one day in Malawi about life than I have in my previous 21 years.'
'For me Malawi was the experience of a lifetime.'