Graduating from one educational phase to another is always an important stage in life, and none the less so for the young students who graduated from SOS Kindergarten Lilongwe at the end of 2008.
The young scholars, most of who were five years old, took the opportunity to look to the future with confidence. In front of an audience of parents, children took the lead and performed a nativity play.
A little boy looking pensive in a quiet moment (Photo: SOS Archives)
The play was conducted in English, which is the mother tongue of most of the children who attend the kindergarten in Lilongwe and remembered to speak loudly and clearly.
Suitably dressed, the youngsters took on the traditional roles of Mary, Joseph, wise men, shepherds, angels and even baby Jesus himself.
Various emotions could be seen on the young actor's faces - pride, confidence, bashfulness; along with certain pensiveness about what the future might hold.
Fifty six children moved on to primary school and this year all of them moved to the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School which is just across the road from the kindergarten. SOS Hermann Gmeiner School Lilongwe is considered to be one of, if not the best, primary schools in Lilongwe. The entry class is divided into two groups, with the more academically-minded children in one group and those who are assessed to be more practically-minded in another group. However, as a child progresses through school they may be moved from one group to another depending on their needs.
In order to graduate, each child is assessed by a group of teachers to check that they have met the relevant milestones and are ready to take on the challenges of primary education. The group includes a teacher who is specially trained in the identification of special needs. Should any child need some form of remedial education, this is routinely picked up at this point and special arrangements can be made to ensure that the rest of the child's education is not compromised.
The 'Class of 2008' pose for a formal photo in the graduation gowns (Photo: SOS Archives)
The SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School has facilities for various special needs teachers and appropriate facilities, from those children who simply require a little more time to grasp concepts, to those with physical challenges such as limited sight or hearing. At the moment, approximately ten per cent of the school's enrolments attend some form of special education class at least once a week.
According to Annie Kaitano, the kindergarten principle, "parents commend the atmosphere at the kindergarten for being warm and encouraging. They invited the educators to keep this up for the new children entering the kindergarten so that they will also do as well as the outgoing graduates. After the event, many of the parents told me that they thought our school was one of the best in Lilongwe!"