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Fernando Bambo, Malaria Consortium’s Communications and Advocacy Coordinator in Mozambique, writes about a teacher training initiative supporting educational activities in schools for malaria prevention and control initiatives in Nampula Province, northern Mozambique.

We have travelled from Malema District and finally reach Murrupula, in Nampula province, northern Mozambique. It is February, and the rain is falling heavily. In Mozambique at this time of the year malaria is usually at its peak due to mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water.

It is early morning and we have reached the Primary School of Murrupula, 70km from the city of Nampula, where we are giving a training course about malaria education and prevention in schools to a group of teachers.

Despite heavy rains, teachers and students have walked several kilometers to make “school as usual”. Outside the training room, the pupils fill with curiosity and climb the windows to get a glimpse of what is happening inside. It is a rather unusual scene for them to watch their teachers become students, sitting at the same desks where they usually sit. In their eyes, a teacher is a human being who is born endowed with knowledge.

Isabel Ilda Isaac teaches seventh grade students at Murrupula Primary School and has been selected to participate in the training. Isabel lives in Murrupula with her husband and three children, who are all boys. In addition to her role as a teacher, Isabel is also responsible for school hygiene and the machamba (small farm fields where students cultivate to improve their diet).

Before the training begins, we arrange an exercise to help participants understand the burden of malaria in their lives and communities. They are asked to line up, in ascending order, to represent the number of malaria episodes they have experienced in their life. The teacher Isabel does not stand in line, because, as she explains, she has had so many malaria episodes that she can no longer count them. She takes a deep breath and explains, in her soft voice:

“I’ve had numerous episodes of malaria in my life and it is not possible to account for them all. Every year, I suffer about three episodes of malaria. Even now, my three children are not going to school because of malaria. Malaria is a serious problem. This training is an extremely important event for me as a mother and obviously for other families and communities; after this, when I will be educating the pupils, it will feel like I am helping to make the Men of Tomorrow.”

Isabel is part of a group of teachers who are benefitting from training for malaria prevention and control, enabling them to conduct educational activities in the classroom. In addition to the training, the teachers will receive a kit of educational materials with visual illustrations and texts, to stimulate interactive discussion between teachers and students about malaria, including signs and symptoms, prevention methods, particularly the correct use of mosquito nets.

“This training is a good initiative because learning never ends, and this new knowledge will benefit me, my family and my community as a whole. The activity should cover more schools and children” said Isabel.

The training of teachers is an initiative being carried out by Malaria Consortium and other civil society partners, World Vision (WV) as main recipient; International Relief for Development (IRD); Fundacao para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade (FDC) and Medicos do Mundo de Portugal. This initiative is under the Malaria Prevention and Control Project, funded by the Global Fund. The project also includes mass campaigns for the distribution of free long-lasting insecticidal nets, the training of community-based organisations on malaria prevention, and the promotion of timely treatment-seeking and community activities to encourage people to use mosquito nets to prevent the disease.