By Dyson Mthawanji
DVV International honoured two journalists in Malawi for their exceptional reporting on Adult Learning and Education (ALE). The recognition ceremony took place in Lilongwe, Malawi's Capital City, during the 2023 Media Institute for Southern Africa - Malawi Chapter on Saturday, 6th May, 2023. Taonga Sabola from Times Group received the award in the print category, while Winston Kaimila from Zodiak Broadcasting Station was recognized in the electronic category. Both journalists expressed their gratitude for the laptops and accessories they received, acknowledging their significance in fostering their continued efforts in reporting on ALE and other developmental matters.
Winston Kaimila won the award for her radio report titled "Government breaches its own minimum wage regulation by underpaying adult literacy teachers." The report, aired on Zodiak Radio on 30th September 2022, provided a platform for adult class instructors to shed light on the prevailing challenges faced by the Adult Education sector in Malawi. One of the instructors voiced concerns over the inadequacy of the honorarium he receives, stating that the meager amount of MK 15,000.00 per month fell far short of meeting his daily needs. Additionally, the instructors and supervisors were perplexed by the payment process being channeled through the government salaries account, despite the government's own minimum wage standing at MK 50,000.00.
On the other hand, Sabola received recognition for his article titled " Pangs of illiteracy: How my wicked friend authored my divorce letter," published in The Sunday Times on 26th March 2023.
Like Kaimila, Sabola expressed immense joy upon receiving the award, considering it a great honour. He acknowledged the numerous talented journalists in Malawi who submitted commendable entries deserving of such recognition. Sabola emphasized the importance of adult education, stating that it provides hope to individuals who might have otherwise been trapped in hopelessness. He further expressed his desire for all those who missed out on formal education in their early years to be given an opportunity to learn, emphasizing that one is never too old for education.
Gerhard Quincke, the Regional Director for Southern Africa at DVV International, stressed the crucial role of the media in informing the public about the significance and diverse aspects of ALE. Quincke urged all the journalists present at the ceremony to continue researching and producing stories related to ALE. He underlined that ALE is a multifaceted issue that cuts across various sectors and plays a vital role in overall development.
Quincke also noted an improvement in the quality of journalists' entries for the ALE category in 2023. However, he emphasized the importance of journalists engaging further and expanding their understanding of the breadth and importance of ALE. He criticized the narrow perspective that had traditionally characterized ALE in Malawi, limited only to literacy and numeracy, calling for a departure from such antiquated thinking.
DVV International has been actively collaborating with the media in Malawi since its establishment in 2017 to promote ALE. In partnership with MISA Malawi, DVV International introduced the ALE Media award in 2020 to motivate journalists to pursue ALE reporting in both print and electronic media. Previous winners include Chimwemwe Mikwala of Yoneco FM and John Chirwa of Nation Publications Limited in 2020, Brenda Kaonga of MIJ FM and Wezzie Gausi of Times Group in 2021, and Georgia Chirombo (electronic) and Clement Chinoko of Nation Publications Limited (print) in 2022.
In addition to 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.