The Happy Classrooms project emerged from the need to improve learning environments in government primary schools. When boNGO started its early childhood education program it soon became clear that children graduating from boNGO’s Model Childcare Centers were introduced to a much lower standard of learning upon entering government primary schools.
To reduce the difference boNGO partnered with the primary schools in which boNGO’s pre-school graduates were enrolled, and decorated the Standard 1 and Standard 2 classrooms with child-friendly, syllabus-related paintings.The change it brought was great: teachers started to use a wider variety of teaching methods; and children concentrated better, remembered things easier, and school for them has become a more interesting, inspiring and friendly place.
Seeing the positive impact of the decorated walls, this initiative was implemented in other ten rural primary schools and given the name 'Happy Classrooms' project. Soon the project began to be replicated in as many primary schools as funding would allow. Since then many Malawian companies, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), have partnered with boNGO and sponsored more Happy Classrooms. Also international development organizations, such as Concern Worldwide, partnered with boNGO and "commissioned" boNGO to paint over 200 classrooms in their impact areas. From June 2011 to March 2014, over 900 classrooms have been transformed into Happy Classrooms.
Decorating one classroom costs $400 to $600 depending on how remote the school is and how much maintenance the walls need before painting. This price covers:
- Introduction of the project to teachers, headmasters of schools and authorities from the Ministry of Education
- Maintenance of the old walls
- Painting materials
- Art work
Each Happy Classroom will last for at least 10 years and have a positive impact on over 1,500 Malawian pupils. So far, boNGO has developed a manual for painting classrooms of Std. 1-4, but plans to go up to Std. 8.Dramatically improves learning environment as teachers can teach more effectively and students can learn on their own from the decorations
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CEI approaches in actionStudent supportLearning materials for studentsSchool supportCurriculum reform/designEnglish language
Model details2011Not-for-profitComprehensive curriculumMath/numeracyLocal language/Mother tongue languageEnglish languageActiveLong-term projectConcern Worldwide50%
BeneficiariesOtherAll children at primary schools
Partnering with local businesses and groups who wish to have an effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). boNGO has partnered with the following companies: Chambo Fisheries, TNM, FMB, Andrex Industries, Pick-A-Part, NBS, Steers, NU Cement Hardware, Rotary club Limbe, Malawi Sun hotel, Galaxy Pharmaceutical, Mount Soche Sunbird hotel, Rab Processors, Eastern Produce, Creative Revolution, Hope Africa, Ryalls hotel, Group One, Barloword, Suncrest, Mapeto Tyres, PG Glass, Bata, Nico Insurance, Toyota, Siku Transport, Peoples Trading Center, Carlsberg, United General Insurance, PIM, Agora, Frank Knight, Manica and other companies / individuals that do not wish to be mentioned.
In addition, boNGO has partnered with Illovo Sugar to decorate primary schools within their plantations that are attended by the children of their staff.
Each Happy Classroom serves approximately 150 children every year.
900 ordinary classrooms were painted into Happy Classrooms.May, 2014
The Happy Classrooms project started in June 2011 in Blantyre rural primary schools. As we saw its great impact started to move to the Blantyre City and then other regions of Malawi. In the beginning we painted only Std. 1 and 2 classrooms, these days we are painting up to Std. 4. The paintings are different in each Standard and carefully reflect the curriculum. They are always developed in cooperation with teachers and representatives of the Ministry of Education. The expansion depends on funding available.
We want to develop decorations for classrooms up to Std. 8. The geographical expansion will depend on funding partners available.
The project is expanding into pediatric wards in health centers with the aim of making the hospital stay for children more pleasant, as many of them are out of school for long periods; as well as to enlighten their mothers, who often wait long hours in wards, on important early childhood development practices such as breastfeeding, hygiene, vaccinations and diet.
boNGO has started to expand into teacher training colleges so as to ensure that teachers learn how to use visual aids as part of child-centered pedagogy.
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
We have a basic monitoring and evaluation strategy in place that tracks how teachers use decorations to aid teaching, but due to insufficient funding for human resource, we are yet to develop a robust framework.User satisfactionStudent retentionNo