Stepping Stones Primary School – an update from Alice

Stepping Stones International Primary School is the dreamchild of Alice Leaper, who heads up Butterfly Space in Nkhata Bay, Malawi. Set up to provide high quality education for local children, it offers a few subsidised places in each year to those who are living in rural poverty, and as a result is enabling children who previously only dreamed of going to school, the chance to sit and learn, just as is the right of every child.

The school teachers are all Malawian, in line with national education guidelines, but through Butterfly Space there are frequent volunteers from around the world who are able to offer time at the school to enhance and enrich the curriculum, as well as provide classroom support for the teachers, so enabling better input for each child.

Stepping Stones Primary School teaching staff, plus Francis (Canadian volunteer school manager)

The school has now been open for 3 academic years, and here is a message from Alice as she looks back, and forwards:


‘For its 3rd year, Stepping Stones International Primary School has achieved great successes again. Thanks to our new transportation services, with a bigger Nkhata Bay bus, and 2 minibuses from Vizara and Mpamba, we have reached a total of 162 students (88 boys, 75 girls). Added to the high-quality English and Malawian lessons, our pupils enjoyed different clubs like computer, boxing, craft, nutrition, permaculture and Drama. Our school lunch program has offered delicious meals for more than 100 students every day, our social club actively helped our community many times and our end of term school trips are becoming bigger and better. The school also obtained its registration, granting us access to the Department of Education official services and allowing our Class 7 to sit for national exams next year.

This coming year, the main focus of Stepping Stones will be to put everything in place to assure the readiness of our Class 7 students for National Exams in May 2020. First, we will have experienced teachers accompanying our pupils, we will open weekly extra class time and we will be in collaboration with many other stakeholders to obtain all necessary information for their academic success. 

More importantly, we expect more students coming to Stepping Stones next year. We will have become a full private primary school with 7 classes and our growing reputation will definitely bring full classes (limited to 30 students maximum per class). This is why it will become extremely important for parents/guardians to guarantee their child’s spot by making a school fees down payment. In case of a full class, a waiting list will be created and listed students will be contacted whenever a spot opens.

I am so grateful to everyone who has played a part in any way to help Stepping Stones get to where it is today. From donors across the world who took a risk and put forward some money to help us get started, to volunteers who have helped with the building and construction side of things, to local community members who have given their support in a range of ways, to volunteers who have come and given professional input within the classroom, and to those donors who continue to support us as we grow and develop – without you none of this would have been possible – a very big thank you to each of you.

And as we move forwards and look to getting Stepping Stones listed on the national register of schools who have had students successfully pass their year 7 exam, know that each of you has played a part in that.

There are still challenges to be met, opportunities for volunteers and a number of financial needs to help us develop further, and if anyone would like to know more about getting involved in any way then please contact me, or Helen at CRED.

Thank you once again


One Comment:

  1. Rebekah Cummings

    Oak Academy cannot wait to be here next week working with this amazing project

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