On Monday, 6th June, 2022, DVV International awarded two journalists in Malawi for outstanding Adult Learning and Education (ALE) reporting. The two journalists – Georgia Mbaghugho Chirombo of MIJ FM Radio (Electronic) and Clement Chinoko of Nation Publications Limited (Print) – received laptops and accessories, which they have described as a great help and motivation for their continued work on ALE and other development issues.
DVV International officially handed over the prizes to the two journalists during a colourful event which took place in Malawi’s Capital City, Lilongwe. The ceremony came in the aftermath of World Press Freedom Day commemorations which the Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) Malawi held on 3rd May 2022 in Nkhata Bay district, and at which Chirombo and Chinoko were declared winners for the electronic and print ALE Media categories respectively.
Chirombo won the award courtesy of her radio report entitled “When illiteracy became an iceberg that sank agriculture development in Malawi”, while Chinoko received his award for his article entitled “Bumpy road to adult illiteracy elimination” which was published in the Weekend Nation dated 26th March, 2022.
Regarding her winning report, Chirombo said: “In this radio report, I brought to light the impact of high illiteracy levels among small holder farmers on the productivity of the agriculture sector in Malawi. Through this enquiry, I established that illiteracy is a major factor impeding small scale farmers from maximizing their productivity as their inability to read prevents them from accessing written agriculture information on modern farming techniques.
“Furthermore, findings of this investigation exposed the threat posed by the inability of illiterate farmers to read and follow instructions on application of pesticides, which poses a health risk for consumers, as well as for the wellbeing of the environment,” said Chirombo.
In her report, Chirombo engaged relevant stakeholders on the best strategies to be implemented to promote adult education for small holder farmers as a means of improving their literacy levels and ensuring that they become more productive to promote food security in Malawi.
On the other hand, Chinoko’s newspaper article exposed the challenges that the ALE sector is facing in Malawi. Chinoko went further to bring forward possible solutions to these changes.
“The article indicated that adult learning and education is not only about literacy and numeracy. The article talked about Integrated Adult Education (IAE) as one way of making ALE attractive as a crucial approach for sustainable development.
Through IAE, participants learn knowledge and skills in areas they need such as agriculture and entrepreneurship while simultaneously learning literacy and numeracy,” Chinoko said.
DVV International Regional Director for Southern Africa, David Harrington, highlighted that the media is an important ally in informing the public of the importance and diverse nature of ALE. He encouraged all of the journalists present at the ceremony to continue researching and writing more stories about ALE. He emphasised that ALE is a crosscutting and multi-sectoral issue that is key to development on all levels.
Harrington said in 2022 there is a great improvement in journalists’ entries for the ALE category. However, he emphasised that although DVV International celebrates this good news, it is important for journalists to continue to engage with and expand their understanding of the scope and importance of Adult Learning and Education.
“Historically, ALE in Malawi has been viewed in a very narrow way as just literacy and numeracy. We need to move away from this old-fashioned way of thinking,” he said.
DVV International has been working with the media on the promotion of ALE since it started its operations in Malawi in 2017. In 2020, DVV International in partnership with MISA Malawi introduced the ALE Media award to motivate journalists to pursue ALE reporting both in print and electronic media. In 2020, the winners were Chimwemwe Mikwala of Yoneco FM (Electronic) and John Chirwa of Nation Publications Limited (Print). In 2021, the winners were Brenda Kaonga of MIJ FM (Electronic) and Wezzie Gausi of Times Group (Print).
Apart from the ALE awards, DVV International and MISA Malawi have also been organising media trainings to endow journalists with knowledge and information on ALE so that their work accurately addresses the major issues and challenges faced by the ALE sector in Malawi and the region.