Although improving, the current dropout rate for students is 3.7%, attributed to family responsibilities, long commutes, gender-based violence, marriage and/or pregnancy for girls. HELP is committed to engage students in skills that can be carried into their future.
To develop student performance, reduce dropout rates and provide marketable skills to students, HELP has embarked on implementing supplementary programs during summer and after regular school hours. These classes include Life Skills, Sewing and Tailoring, Computer and English lessons.
The classes are designed to equip students with valuable knowledge and skills beyond entrepreneurial expertise. Computer class teaches basic typing skills, which is otherwise first introduced in secondary school in Malawi. Music plays a powerful and important role in the language of expression in Malawi. Band classes teach the students traditions and history in their culture as well as how to listen, create and perform. The Life Skills class aims to empower girls to become socially and economically independent and to actively influence change in their day-to-day lives just as their counterparts. Girls are encouraged to set life goals and work to achieve them. Currently over 250 students from middle and senior grades participate in these programs, for their own benefit and the community at large.
Ursuline College, in Ohio, has supported the efforts of HELP through a sewing and tailoring partnership that was established in 2010. Ursuline College has graciously provided annual volunteers to teach and equipment to aid in the instruction of sewing and tailoring for Malawian girls and boys. The program is designed to train both boys and girls to become skilled tailors so that they can earn an income in their village and mend their own clothing.