Design Squad Global – After-School Program

A Design Squad Global after-school program in Malawi.

In 2017 The Rosemary Pencil Foundation partnered with US media company WGBH in Boston. Design Squad is an Emmy award winning television series on PBS and there is curriculum available for activities in the classroom. The emphasis is on design and engineering with a focus on going green. Local teachers in Malawi have now been trained on the curriculum. The fun-packed activities enforce critical thinking and problem solving as the kids invent and develop ideas and devices that help to improve their own lives.

The older group of secondary school students was working on the Wind Power Challenge while the younger group of primary school students was tackling the Flight Test Challenge. We provide the supplies needed for the projects and, through CITW, work with the teachers.

Creative Writing Prize

Seen here student Rabecca for her essay ‘Stephen’s Travel’ collecting her certificate and prize.

We launched a Creative Writing Prize in 2019 and received 75 entries this first year. The essay writing competition for secondary school students is to encourage a greater fluency in reading and writing in English.

Children in the Wilderness helped organize the running of the program. The first round of judging was supervised by Mr Chipuzga of Mzuzu University and then a final round of judging took place with a team of jurors in the USA as well as three local judges in Malawi.

We will refine the rules and regulations slightly for next year’s competition and hope to attract even more essays from secondary school students.

E-Reader – Kindle Program


In May, 2013 The Rosemary Pencil Foundation launched the first e-reader initiative in Malawi.   Thanks to the generosity of a single donor, we were able to partner with San Francisco-based Worldreader and provide a girl’s boarding school in southern Malawi with 60 e-readers. Two years later we were able to repeat the initiative supplying e-readers to Bandawe Girls Secondary School.

The e-readers contain some Malawi secondary school curriculum. This includes Health Sciences, Geography, History, English and Math. Each device also has a dictionary, atlas, other study guides and more than 100 books written by African, American and British authors from well-known classics to recent titles such as President Obama’s autobiography.  The teachers have their own devices with Teachers’ Guides on them.  Not everything that we would like to include on the devices is digitized and available but we are trying to gain access to more of the course books.

Students who attend secondary school in rural areas have an extremely limited access to books. Often the school libraries simply do not have enough good books to read and for these students, for whom English is a second language (they speak the local language at home)  the more reading they can do the better.   

We are grateful to one generous donor who continues to support the e-reader program and has made it part of his mission to invest in education and opportunities for our students.

We conducted an informal survey among the students and teachers to see what they enjoyed most about the devices. The consensus was that having additional books to read for pleasure was a bonus as well as being able to study on the e-reader in their own time.


left to right: Symon Chibaka, Program Director of CITW; Alfred Magumbala, Headmaster at the Namalomba Community School, and Gillian Rose, President, The Rosemary Pencil Foundation.