“Together we can make the global goals real.”

Those were the words spoken by Seonaid Stevenson from Classrooms for Malawi as she gave her closing remarks at the charity’s Global Goals event which was held at the charity’s new office building in St Columbkille’s Church Hall in Rutherglen on Saturday 6th February.

The event was organised by Classrooms for Malawi and supported by funding from the Scottish Government and Scotland Malawi Partnership. It was designed to raise awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals or, as they’re more commonly referred to as, the “Global Goals”. The Global Goals are a set of 17 Goals that every UN member state has signed up to. More information can be found at www.globalgoals.org.

Classrooms for Malawi see achieving Goal 4 ‘Quality Education’ as the only way to achieve all the other goals and believe that education is the best and most sustainable route out of poverty. When a country’s population are educated the economy grows, infant mortality rates drop and life expectancy goes up. Success in the other 16 Goals – from Goal 1 ‘No Poverty’, to Goal 5 ‘Gender Equality’, to Goal 13 ‘Climate Action’ – become truly possible only after Goal 4 has been achieved.

Classrooms for Malawi exist to improve places of education in Malawi, and work in partnership with schools, local authorities, social groups, other charities and businesses here in Scotland and in Malawi to tackle the 30,000 classroom deficit in the country. Classrooms for Malawi work with the education department and local population in some of the world’s poorest communities to identify their needs and construct and renovate classrooms, dormitories, toilet and shower blocks, teacher’s houses and feeding kitchens. They work hand-in-hand with the communities, and employ Malawian contractors and use local materials where possible. In 2015 almost 100 Malawian tradesmen worked on Classrooms for Malawi projects. To date, in the three short years they have been operating in Malawi, Classrooms for Malawi have built or constructed over 70 classrooms, and have an ambitious building programme which will see this number rise to well over 100 in 2016.

Over 100 supporters attended ‘Classrooms for Malawi and the Global Goals’, including local politicians, members of the Rutherglen community and other supporters from around the country. The audience were treated to inspiring speeches from Keith Bohman from Scotland Malawi Partnership, and Tony Begley and Seonaid Stevenson from Classrooms for Malawi. Two pupils from Glennifer High School in Renfrewshire also presented and captivated the audience discussing their two-way partnership with Dzenza Primary School in Malawi. There was a chance for the attendees to network and speak to others who are interested in making the Global Goals a reality in Malawi, and a chance to try some Malawi Gin and likuni phala, the porridge served up at schools across Malawi at Mary’s Meals feeding kitchens. Everyone was also asked to choose the goal that they think is most important, a reason why and how they can help to achieve it. These were written on post-it notes and stuck to the banner showing that goal and will be used to help inform the work of Classrooms for Malawi and their partners. Over £100 was also raised through various activities.

James Kelly, Classrooms for Malawi Chairperson, said:

“Saturday’s Global Goals event was an absolutely fantastic event which far surpassed even our expectations, and I hope it provided some food for thought for everyone who came, and will spur them into action to help achieve the Global Goals, both in Malawi and in their own communities. The turnout, enthusiasm and participation was inspiring. I’d like to say thank you on behalf of Classrooms for Malawi to the Scotland Malawi Partnership and Scottish Government for the grant funding which made the event possible, to the volunteers who organised and worked at the event and made it such a success, to the wonderful speakers, and most of all to everyone who came along and got involved.”