My name is Elijah Mpona and I believe that being a teacher is something unique and special

Elijah Mpona

Elijah Mpona, a teacher in Malawi


“Being a teacher is something special, it’s unique. You take what’s in your brain and you put it in someone else’s. And, once you see that it’s worked, that the person is doing what you’ve taught him or her to do, you feel great”.

“My name’s Elijah Mpona. I’m a moderator here at the Dzaleka digital lab in Malawi. First of all, I’m a programmer, a software developer. And here I’m a student moderator. This is how Elijah, a ProFuturo teacher at the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi, introduces himself. 

Elijah Mpona believes that being a teacher is something special and unique: “You take what’s in your brain and you put it in someone else’s. And, once you see that it’s worked, that the person is doing what you’ve taught him or her to do, you feel great”.

Educational barriers

As a programmer, Elijah confesses to loving technology, which is why he feels comfortable as a ProFuturo teacher: “As this job is all about technology, computers, tablets and so on, I’m more motivated about being here because it’s the place I like to be in. Elijah Mpona works at the only primary school at the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi and he’s also a refugee from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

The complexity of the educational situation in this context has led Elijah to adapt and overcome the different barriers to teaching: “It’s really devastating and it’s a major problem for us, as teachers, because at the camp here we have hundreds of nationalities, different people from different places, and they have different cultures and languages. So, as we have a centre here and at this centre we have all these children from different places speaking different languages, we have to find a way of communicating with them, understanding their behaviour and finding out where they come”.

Adapting to the limitations on teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic was another major barrier for Elijah: ” We had to split the class. Before we had maybe 120 students in one class, but now we have 50”.

Technology that motivates

Although Elijah was already familiar with the implementation of technology in the classroom, the ProFuturo training has allowed him to expand his teaching methods: “The training has helped us to enable people separated from each other to connect in their learning and understand what’s going on in the world”. 

The arrival of ProFuturo in Dzaleka’s classrooms has also given extra motivation to the school’s students: “The students are really motivated. They like it because it involves them doing something apart from what they see on the blackboards and the teacher explaining things. So they’re more motivated because they see things they haven’t seen before and they’re able to use tablets, and tablets have sounds and images. You know, like cartoons. So they’re more encouraged to learn”.

As for the students’ parents, they’ve also noticed their children’s involvement when it comes to learning at the centre, which also provides them with security: “At home they’ve noticed that their children are more likely to say: “It’s time to go, I have to go to ProFuturo, I have to go to the lab to learn”. And they like sending their children here because they know that, when they’re here, to begin with, they’re safe and they enjoy learning. When people enjoy learning, they know and understand what they’re doing and they won’t forget the lessons. So it’s easy to teach the children with the tablets and it’s what the parents like most”.

Our work in Malawi

ProFuturo began working in Malawi in September 2019. Since then we’ve implemented our digital education programme at the Dzaleka refugee camp, about 40 kilometres from the capital. The camp hosts around 54,000 people, more than half of whom are children and young people, mostly from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

In partnership with Entreculturas and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) we aim to ensure quality education and a safe learning environment at the only primary school in this refugee camp. Guaranteeing the educational continuity of children aged between 9 and 12 in this emergency situation is our main objective.