Duncan Wadson is a Geography teacher at Khongoloni Secondary School in Phalombe
* He incorporates disaster risk management & climate change in his Geography teaching sessions
* He has also been encouraged to have the thesis published with Educational Research Association of Zambia Journal
* In September, he sounded an SOS to wellwishers to sponsor him K2 million to complete his final year, but he still has not been reached out to
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawian school teacher, Duncan Wadson has been invited by Educational Research Association of Zambia (ERAZ) to present his abstract ‘Addressing Climate Change Education in Senior Secondary School Curriculum in the Southern Region of Malawi’ at ERAZ’s 2nd annual international conference.
The abstract forms part of his thesis for his final year of a PhD in Curriculum Studies he is pursuing with University of Zambia and the ‘Climate Change Education in Senior Secondary School Curriculum in the Southern Region of Malawi’ is his PhD research, which has reached discussion chapter.
To be held in Lusaka, Zambia from November 8-10 at M’kango Golfview Hotel — under the theme ‘Transforming Education for a Sustainable Future: Theory, Policy & Practice’ — Wadson will be accompanied at the conference by his University of Zambia PhD supervisors, Prof. Innocent Mutale Mulenga and Dr. Inonge Milupi.
Wadson, a Geography teacher Khongoloni Secondary School in Phalombe, has also been encouraged to have the thesis published with Educational Research Association of Zambia Journal (JERAZ), which will be publishing Volume 2 issue by end of November 2024 and was advised to send his manuscript by November 30, 2023 — 20 days after the conference.
The Malawian teacher is already in Zambia to finalize his PhD research and using his own resources, paid 1,500 Zambian Kwacha (MK105,000) as registration for the international conference.
At Khongoloni Secondary School, Wadson incorporates disaster risk management & climate change in his Geography teaching sessions and enrolled for the PhD in Curriculum Studies with University of Zambia so that he could inspire the country to design in its education curriculum so that students should acquire knowledge for mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
Ironically, he is a victim of the same climate change affecting Malawi as Tropical Cyclone Freddy in March destroyed his rice farm, which earned him enough to finance his past two years of study at University of Zambia.
In September, he sounded an SOS to wellwishers to sponsor him K2 million as he is struggling financially ahead of his final year but he still has not been reached out to.
He says he sponsored himself for his road travel to Zambia, his upkeep there and the conference registration fee using earning from his salary from Government.
He pleads that he still needs to be assisted for his final year as he sponsored himself for the past two years, saying if he manages to raise the K2 million tuition fees and K500,000 as examination fee, there is a possibility that he could graduate in May next year.
“I have not paid anything for the final year and I am relying on my small salary for my upkeep here,” he said. “My thesis is already at an advanced stage and I can’t afford to lose this opportunity.
“Even my supervisors, Prof. Mulenga and Dr. Milupi are happy with my progress but the tuition and examination fees is the major challenge for me to graduate in May.”
In his email to congratulate Wadson for earning himself the invitation at the prestigious conference, Prof. Mulenga said: “I am glad that you are pushing on all fronts of your study, this is commendable.”
In his plea for sponsorship in September, Wadson said he depends on rice production to support his education but unfortunately lost all his rice fields of about 10 hectares due to the Cyclone Freddy.
He harvests about 300 bags of rice per year which raises him about K4 million in a year — thus he was able to pay for his studies as the whole programme is K6 million which he has already paid for its 2 years, remaining with K2 million for the final year.
His rice fields — situated at Lake Chilwa, commonly known as Malo or Chikawonga area — has the water body of the Lake reclaiming the land and nobody cannot plant on that site as it is now being utilized by fishermen.
He said he enrolled for the programme in 2021 after taking cognizance of the extent that climate change is affecting Malawi, saying: “I got inspired to examine how climate change education can be incorporated in our secondary school curriculum.
“Climate change is an emergency issue that needs to be taught in all the subjects. So I got inspired to enroll for the programme so that I can research on this and see how the gaps can be addressed in the curriculum.”
Wadson, who attained his first degree at Mzuzu University in 2016 in Bachelor of Arts (Education) and Geography as a major, has taught at Khongoloni Secondary School for 15 years and started teaching when he only possessed T2 Certificate.
For his research, Wadson said he chose the topic ‘Implementation of Climate Change Education in Senior Secondary School Curriculum in the Southern Region of Malawi’ — “because climate change is mostly affecting the Southern Region”.
“For instance, Cyclone Ana , Cyclone Gombe  and Cyclone Freddy  mostly affected the Southern Region of Malawi — so there is a need for us to do something about it.
He further emphasized that climate change education is really an answer to Malawi, while emphasizing that the teaching on the subject should emphasize on practice.
“Students should learn through practice, for instance, through projects like water harvesting, tree planting and waste management. Climate change education can transform the students on how they interact with the environment.
“They can also teach community members about climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Whole school approach can also be the best in the teaching of climate change.”
In his teachings Geography lessons at Khongoloni Secondary School, Wadson also inculcates on his student the culture of environmental conservation, saying: “I had a project of planting trees with my students in the last rainy season where we planted 250 tree seedlings.”
He impressed that his PhD study is very important “because it may assist the curriculum developers to include climate change content in all the subjects.
“It may also assist policy makers to make clear policies that will encourage climate change education in the school curriculum. Education is really a powerful tool for combating climate change.
“Teachers who are end users of the curriculum need also to be trained. Let me assure you that I shall introduce climate change projects in schools especially in Shire Highlands Education Division soon after my studies — climate change is not doing good to us.”
His PhD programme at University of Zambia is a full time and he attended classes physically in his first year and proceeded working on his research but has to go back for his final year — after the conference — thus his appeal since he is at his wits’ end where to find the resources from following the destruction of his rice farm.