“I didn’t have an opportunity to learn while I was young like other people and it affected me a lot – in fact it still haunts me”

Child nutrition (Early years), Childcare, Early childhood development, ​Learning through play (Early years)

Global Youth Ambassador Marshall explains why he is backing Theirworld's #5for5 campaign to put pressure on world leaders to make sure all children have access to quality early childhood development.

Not all people are born with equal opportunities. There are those who are born amidst plenty of opportunities and there are those who inherit a future which has no hope at all. 

This can be particularly true of those growing up in a rural village where the future lies squarely on farming a piece of land which has been passed on from generation to generation and is no longer as fertile as it used to be. Such has been the lesson of my life.

Coming from a poor and marginalised home left me with limited opportunities – opportunities which I yearn for still. However, I am very lucky in some ways, because during my early childhood I had access to good nutrition, play, protection and health.

My parents and guardians played a major role in this – and so while I want to credit them for all that they did for me, there was always one area in which I couldn’t afford to take part in and that was learning. 

I had no opportunity to seek the corridors of a nursery school or to receive any early education. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but l was missing out on laying the foundations of my educational journey.

Though I was young, I can still vividly remember that I found it hard to grasp what my teacher was saying in my formative primary school days. 

This was because of two things – firstly, sometimes l could be sent to school without taking breakfast, so I ended up feeling too weak to take part in class. Secondly, it was because my brain wasn’t ready to absorb the concepts that were being explained to me.

It took me many years to start doing well at, and enjoying, school. My brother, the second born in our family, lived with my parents in the town of Blantyre, while I lived with my aunt. 

Being in town, my brother was exposed to many inspirational and motivational things, which made him work really hard. 

He became my role model and inspired me to aim higher in life – I wanted to copy the way he was managing as an individual despite being the son of an ordinary cook.

I felt inspired and suddenly my grades began to change for the better. l completed my primary education and moved on to a private secondary school, in hopes of receiving a quality education.

Things didn’t work out there though, because though I was doing well I passed my exams with low grades. I moved to another school where I sat my Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE), which I passed but again not to my satisfaction, and not to the satisfaction of university admission requirements.

The only options were to sit the exams again or to enrol in one of the private colleges. 

Unfortunately, my father died and my sponsors (who were my uncle and my brother) could no longer afford to fund my studies. However, this didn’t mean the end of my future. 

Ultimately, I finished a computer course at a nearby college and got a job at the company where my brother was working.

Looking at my school journey, I realise that most of the challenges I faced were caused by the unsteady foundation I had. I believe that good early years education is the bedrock of future success in education and learning. 

I didn’t have an opportunity to learn while I was young like other people and it affected me a lot, in fact it still haunts me now.

I believe there are so many people who may share a similar story like mine and who wouldn’t want their children to go through what they went through. I know that I am lucky to be where I am because my parents and relatives didn’t give up and because I was self motivated. 

Otherwise, I would have been like my friends who have nothing because they abandoned school after their poor performance made them think they are not intelligent. Yet the big problem was their foundation.

Let’s all support our children by giving them what they need to be great citizens of this global village. Let us all provide the best start possible for our children, our future leaders.

More news

See all news