UTSA education college hosts visit by Malawi diplomats

Bonham Academy Tour
Bonham student pins medal on diplomat

Top photo: COEHD faculty and Malawi diplomats at SAISD's Bonham Academy
Bottom photo: First grader pins homemade Fiesta medal on Malawian visitor

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(May 14, 2010)--The UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) recently welcomed a delegation of Malawi diplomats based in Washington, D.C., and representatives of the Malawi Department of Ministry for Education, Science and Technology.

Over the five-day visit, the delegation visited area schools to learn about bilingual education programs, visited with UTSA deans and vice presidents and also had a chance to experience San Antonio's Fiesta spirit by attending the Texas Cavaliers River Parade.

One of the schools the delegation observed was San Antonio ISD's Bonham Academy, located just west of downtown. The bilingual curriculum at Bonham is recognized around the state for producing students that master both the English and Spanish languages.

The delegates visited Ms. Sanchez' fourth grade class where students were creating video "trailers," similar to those seen in movie theaters to promote upcoming feature films. In Spanish and education-based, the students illustrated and narrated the videos with background music to promote books they enjoyed reading and would recommend to their fellow students.

"We are learning how the schools teach language, more specifically about reading at the earliest age possible," said Rafael Agabu, deputy director of the Ministry for Education, Science and Technology. "In Malawi, we have Chiccewa, our local language, and English, which we teach separately. Here, they are interchanging the languages and this is an area we are interested in and can learn from."

Down the hall in Ms. Rosales' first grade classroom, the students amazed the delegates with their knowledge of English, Spanish and Chinese.

"We want our students to be prepared for the workforce to compete in a global market," said Janet Perez, Bonham Academy principal. "These students have so much to contribute and these experiences are going to only enhance that preparedness."

When the tour was over, as a memento of their visit, the students presented and pinned homemade Fiesta medals on the delegates to take back home with them on their 31-hour flight.

The visit was in conjunction with COEHD's "Read Malawi" project, an international humanitarian effort with the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide educational materials and teacher training to improve literacy rates of children in Africa. The three-year, $13-million cooperative agreement between UTSA and the Republic of Malawi will provide 120 book titles in both English and Chichewan, the native language of Malawi, to 1,000 of the country's 5,000 public schools.