After just four years, Gracious is already on the road to achieving these goals. In 2009, Gracious’s first graduating class finished with a 96% pass rate on the Malawi Secondary Certificate Exam (MSCE), the second highest pass rate out of the district’s ten schools. Several of MCV’s sponsored orphans are continuously noticed by their teachers as being among the best students in their class.
Gracious, like all secondary schools in Malawi, educates students in forms 1 – 4, the equivalent of grades 9 – 12 in the United States. Gracious currently has two classes per form, comprised of approximately 70 students per class, for a total of of approximately 560 students. Typically, 80 – 100 of these students are orphans and vulnerable children sponsored by MCV. The other students pay school fees, with the hope that the school will one day be self sufficient. While the non-sponsored students pay school fees a majority of these students are still impoverished, as 74% of Malawians are living on less than a $1.25 per day. (More on poverty in Malawi here.) Many of these students often struggle to pay fees on time, and some are sponsored by other non-profits in Malawi.
Students at Gracious follow the national curriculum and are educated in such subjects as English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Agriculture, Social Studies, History, and Chichewa (Malawi’s national language). With the exception of Chichewa, all instruction is done in English, as is the case in all of Malawi’s secondary schools. Students take the Junior Certificate Exams at the end of form 2, and the Malawi Secondary Certificate Exam at the end of form 4. The majority of the teaching staff is Malawian, led by Headmistress Lonnie Manduwi. Several Americans have also volunteered as teachers at the school, and sponsored post-secondary students teach at the school during their breaks in order to “pay back” MCV for their sponsorship at university.