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Malawi Project

Holyrood Malawi Partnership

This partnership has been described by Lord MacConnell, Former First Minister, as one of the very best examples of a Scotland / Malawi partnership.

In this, the 80th year of the existence of Holyrood RC Secondary School, we also celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Malawi Project.

We have now, as of November 2016, built over 30 new classrooms , 2 school libraries, 2 Units for children with additional support needs plus a toilet for children with physical disability. We have refurbished and decorated 2 Mary’s Meals under 6 Feeding Centres. In addition we have refurbished and decorated with learning materials over 40 other classrooms. I have visited Malawi with our groups of young people over the past 5 years and I note below how we plan to continue the work of previous teams at a number of centres around the City of Blantyre, Malawi.

Holyrood works in close partnership with the charity, Mary's Meals, whose ambition is to feed the starving children of the world but to do so specifically in  a place of education. They seek to encourage children to attend school by ensuring they have a life-giving meal in school each day. As a result, our partner schools are well attended and children receive a life saving daily meal and invaluable education. In some of those areas where Mary's Meals work to improve attendance, Holyrood RC Secondary's work has been to provide more and better accommodation to meet the needs of better attended schools. Accommodation, however, continues to be critically short and in extremely poor condition.

All Malawi Team members for 2017 must raise at least £2000 themselves to pay for fares and accommodation.


Donations for the Holyrood Secondary School Malawi Project can be made at any time by contacting the Head Teacher at the school or by simply sending a donation, clearly marked as being for the Malawi Project, to the school [cheques to Holyrood Secondary School Fund {Malawi Project} ].


Holyrood RC Secondary School's Team Malawi 2017 has now been chosen after a rigorous selection progress. Over 100 students applied and, after scrutiny of application forms then an interview programme, a group of 36 students was selected for the 2017 Project.


Depending on the funds we manage to raise to support our projects, we hope to focus on the following projects in June 2017.

  • Complete the construction of a water tank to support an irrigation system at Stella Maris Girls’ School. This will support their agriculture project where we are developing a learning partnership with Holyrood.
  • Build a 2 class block at Catholic Institute Primary which will support the establishment of a new Secondary School.
  • Paint and decorate with learning the classroom blocks built at Ngumbe and CI in 2016.
  • Paint and decorate with learning material a Mary’s Meals Feeding Centre
  • Build a 2 classroom block at Zingwangwa or Matindi if funds permit.



In June 2016 our team [36 students + staff Nikki MacLellan, Keely Smith, Sara McMahon, Colette Byrne, Roisin Coyle, Tom McDonald, Carol McDonald and Laurie Byrne] worked on the following;

·         The beginning of an irrigation system at Stella Maris Girls’ School.

·         Built a 2 class block at Catholic Institute Primary to be the first classes of a new Secondary School.

·         Built a 2 classroom block at Chitsime.

·         Painted and decorated with learning material a Mary’s Meals Feeding Centre at Namasimba.

·         Built a 2 classroom block at Ngumbe.

Completed extensive painting and refurbishment of a 4-class block at Zingwangwa

We  also painted and decorated with learning material the 4 classrooms we built in 2015.




A Team led by Head Teacher Laurie Byrne and former Head, now Project Coordinator, Tom McDonald, visited Malawi for 16 days in June. The group of 36 students plus 7 other staff and adult helpers [Ms Dastey, Ms MacLellan, Ms Fleming, Ms Litster, Ms MacInnes, Terry Strain of Bridging the Gap and David Henegha, Head of Glasgow City’s CBS organisation] worked at 5 sites [Matindi village, Chitsime, Ngumbe, Zingwangwa, Mary’s Meals at Mkwanda].

At Matindi we refurbished 3 classrooms plus the Library and re-roofed one of these rooms. At Chitsime we built a further classroom, decorated the classroom and Library we built last year and re-furbished 2 classrooms. At Zingwangwa, we refurbished a block of 4 classrooms, including painting the exterior and built a new Admin block, creating a Library in the previous Admin Block. At Ngumbe we built a new double classroom block and re-furbished the Nursery room. At Mkwanda we painted and decorated with learning material the internal and external walls of the Mary’s Meals under 6 Centre.







A team of 36 young people was chosen for 2014 and continued the work in Malawi accompanied by Head Teacher Laurie Byrne , former Head Tom McDonald, 4 other Holyrood teachers [Ms. Dornan, Ms Henry, Ms Falconer, Ms Dastey, ] Terry Strain of the Bridging the Gap Organisation, Mrs Strain  and Head of St Bride's Primary Mrs Maureen Russell. In 2014 Holyrood pupils worked to complete the following projects.

  • A new classroom at Chitsime Primary School with a new Library area attached. Students also worked to improve the learning environment at Chitsime by painting 2 classrooms. In support of the outstanding work of Mrs Russell, students helped promote literacy in the Chitsime school community. Holyrood also funded the refurbishment and reroofing of the Admin block and teachers workbase which had been destroyed by fire.
  • At Matindi Primary School last year's new classes were painted, with excellent learning resources painted on the walls [a feature of all the classrooms we paint, which is so important given the lack of material resources such as textbooks]. Holyrood funding also re-roofed a classroom and brought electricity to the school for the first time.
  • We visited and supported the newly refurbished vocational area at Zingwangwa PS, crucial to support the incredible work of teacher John Chekhani at ZPS. We have previously built a disabled toilet next to this Additional Support Needs Unit so pupils no longer have to be carried 200 yards over rough ground to get to a latrine.
  • At Stella Maris Secondary School, we continued the support of the curriculum, especially in the context of Children's rights and the empowerment of young women  Ms Dornan and Ms Dastey worked with pupils and staff at Stella Maris to help plan and deliver the initial stages of a health and wellbeing cross curricular learning project . We were able to leave the school with a laptop and Multimedia projector for the 2nd year running, bought with funds raised by the 2014 Malawi Team, so that even without enough textbooks, work tasks and notes can be shown on screen. The Stella Maris team painted and refurbished the school's Assembly Hall, making it a more suitable learning and working environment and now able to be used for national exams.
  • At Catholic Institute Primary School, the 2014 Team did extraordinary work to paint and create a stimulating learning environment for the schhol library and classroom for students. 
  • Beginnings
The beginnings of the Holyrood Malawi Project lie back in 2006 when Holyrood Learning Community ran a backpack appeal in partnership with the charity Scottish International Relief for school pupils in Malawi.
We set and met an ambitious target of collecting 2006 backpacks and the necessary funds of over £2,000 to send the bags to school pupils in Malawi. Later in the year, we received a DVD from SIR of the children receiving their bags, which was shown at all our assemblies. It was incredible to see just how happy the children were at receiving such basic school items such as a pen, pencil or toothbrush. However, in the background we saw the conditions the children were being taught in - classes of 160 or more in classrooms with no windows, doors or paint, if they even had a classroom at all.
From this beginning, the Holyrood school community decided to develop further links with Malawi. In September 2007, Deputy Head Tony Begley followed the backpacks to Blantyre, Malawi in order to set up a partnership in learning with schools in Blantyre. As a result, we are now linked with 4 primaries, Catholic Institute and Zingwangwa, a girls’ secondary, Stella Maris and, most recently, the rural village primary school at Matindi and the Blantyre urban school at Chitsime. The main objectives of our partnerships are to develop awareness of each other's communities, histories, cultures, lifestyles and the many challenges we face in an increasingly inter-dependent world.
Holyrood Malawi Project 2008
In late September 2007 applications were taken from senior school pupils to be members of a team of staff and pupils who would visit Malawi in June 2008 to build a block of 3 classrooms at the Catholic Institute Primary. From over 80 applicants, 23 were selected.
Each team member was given an individual fundraising target of £1,500 to contribute to an overall group target of £50,000. We held many fundraisers in school including discos, cake and candies and raffles. S3 pupil Andrew Eccles designed a logo which was adopted and made into badges and sold to generate funds. Many of our high profile supporters including Jack McConnell MSP and the Lord Provost Bob Winter can now be seen with their Holyrood Malawi badge!
We also organised a Grand Ball in the Crowne Plaza hotel on the16th of February which raised an incredible £13,000 through ticket sales, raffles and an auction.
As part of the journey for the young people involved, a Personal Development Weekend was held in Craig Lodge, Dalmally in December 2007. Over the weekend the 23 pupils learnt skills in leadership and teamwork in preparation for the visit to Malawi. The team also came up with the overall motto or aim for the project as “changing lives through breaking the cycle of poverty.”
In the lead up to the team’s visit in June, we were visited by several distinguished guests including Jack McConnell MSP, Maureen McKenna, Director of Education and Linda Fabiani MSP, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture. We were also invited to speak about our project to local community groups, primaries, the International Education Committee, the Scotland Malawi Partnership and even addressed the Scottish Parliament.
Thanks to the incredible support we received from within the school, our local community and further afield, our final total raised was around £75,000. As a result of this we decided on a second project, renovating a classroom block at Zingwangwa Primary through installing new windows, doors and ventilation as well as painting the interior and exterior of the classrooms.
A diary of our time in Malawi can be found by clicking on the following link:
We left Malawi having completed the project at Zingwangwa and with the project at C.I. only requiring the roof to be completed by the builders. The classroom block was finished shortly after we left and we felt extremely proud of the achievements of the Holyrood Malawi Project after seeing photographs of children learning in the new classrooms when they would have previously had to be taught outside.
Malawi in the Curriculum
In addition to the visit in June, Malawi became an important aspect of our school curriculum. Many subjects have now adopted Malawi into their curriculum. This includes a case study as part of the ‘Rich North, Poor South’ topic in Modern Studies, a close reading passage in English, currency conversion lessons from sterling to kwacha in Mathematics and cooking traditional Malawian food in Home Economics.
We are also keen to learn from our partner schools in Malawi and have common elements to our curriculums here in Holyrood as well as in Malawi. As a result of OLA head teacher Mary Campbell’s visit to Malawi in June 2008, our feeder primaries are working with the head teacher of Catholic Institute, developing worksheets to be used in Holyrood Learning Community, Catholic Institute and Zingwangwa.
Holyrood is partnered with Stella Maris girls’ secondary and we are planning on expanding our curricular links with the school as part of the Holyrood Malawi Project in 2009. The girls are incredibly smart and driven in their love of learning and we look forward to linking with them more on our curriculum over the coming months.
Visit of Malawian Head Teachers to Scotland
In September 2008 we were visited by the head teachers of Stella Maris Secondary and Catholic Institute Primary. We were extremely lucky to be able to see the project develop so much over the past year when the idea of a partnership first began. The purpose of their visit was to work on developing curricular links between the schools, but it also showed this to be very much a partnership in learning and not just a one-way thing. There is as much, if not more, that we can learn from our partner schools as they can learn from us.
As well as spending time in Holyrood and several of our primaries, our Malawian guests also toured the Scottish Parliament, visited the City Chambers at a civic reception hosted by the Lord Provost and celebrated Mass in some of our local parishes. Pupils of Holyrood Learning Community also came together to host an evening in celebration of their visit the night before they left in the school hall, putting on a night showing the diverse range of talents within the school.
Holyrood Learning Community Involvement
When our project began back in 2006, it was run as a joint initiative between Holyrood and our partner primaries, who collectively make up the Holyrood Learning Community. We were very keen for this partnership to develop as one between not just Holyrood and Malawi, but with the full involvement of our partner primaries also. In this way, by working together as a community we can help another community in Malawi.
When the team visited Malawi in June 2008, they were accompanied by Mary Campbell, then Head Teacher at OLA primary. Working with teachers at Catholic Institute Primary, learning resources have been produced so that Holyrood’s associated primaries and partner schools can have shared learning materials.
The partner primaries also took on their own fundraising project following Mr Begley’s visit to Malawi, where he witnessed the volunteers have to make up the Mary’s Meals with extremely dirty water due to a lack of water that day. Within a matter of weeks, they collectively raised £2,500 – enough to install a borehole at the Catholic Institute and feed 100 children in Malawi for a whole year. Pupils from our 9 partner primaries presented the cheque to Peter Nkata, Director of Mary’s Meals Malawi, during a visit to Scotland. Within 3 days of Scottish International Relief receiving the money the borehole had been installed. Thanks to the generosity of the pupils and their families of our partner primaries, all 7,000 pupils at the Catholic Institute can be assured that their daily Mary’s Meal is made with safe drinking water.
Holyrood Malawi Project 2009
As part of this long term partnership, Holyrood continued the project in Malawi in June 2009 alongside our curricular links.
There continues to be immense interest from pupils of all year groups in the development of the project. Over 100 pupils applied to become part of the Holyrood Malawi Project Team 2009.
A group of 25 S5 and S6 pupils from Holyrood went out to build a fully equipped unit for additional support needs pupils in Zingwangwa and renovate a classroom block at the Catholic Institute.
The team took part in a Personal Development Weekend where they came up with their motto for the year – “improving lives and supporting communities through the power of education and friendship.”
We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of our school and community. In February 2009 we held our second ‘Grand Ball’ in the Crowne Plaza in aid of our Malawi Project which raised £17,000.
Further Information
For any further information on the project, please contact Mr. Laurie Byrne , Head Teacher on
0141 582 0120 or to make a donation towards the Holyrood Malawi Project 2013 please contact the Head Teacher on the above telephone number or email -