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January 05, 2005
The Head of Kamuzu Academy gets an MBE

If you look at all the postings I have previously done here about Africa, you mostly get bad news of the sort that is supposed to put what passes for bad educational news in Britain in severe perspective. Very bad news, in other words.

But here is a slightly more cheerful African education story, albeit with a strong British angle:

A HEADMASTER from Manchester who helped transform a school in the bush to the "Eton of Africa" has been awarded an MBE.

Francis Cooke, head of Kamuzu Academy for the past eight years, received the award in the New Year Honours list for services to education in Malawi.

He has worked in the heart of Africa for more than 23 years and is as delighted for the school to be recognised as he is for recognition of his own achievements.

Mr Cooke, 53, a father of four, who was born and raised in Hulme, and went to St Bede's school in Whalley Range, was named in the Overseas List category.

He said: "It is a great honour and I'm very proud for the school. It is a privilege to work in Malawi at a school that has survived some difficulties and gone from strength to strength.

"Kamuzu Academy has been described as the Eton of Africa because of its very high educational standards and ethos.

"It is a first-class grammar school with a library that is one of the best in its class. The pupils wear uniforms and boaters on the lines of the UK's best public schools."

Mr Cooke, who lives at an address in Walkden when he returns home for holidays, said the 408-pupil school - located in a tobacco, maize and coffee-producing region of Malawi was founded in 1981 by Dr Kamuzu Banda.

Mr Cooke said: "I have been in Malawi for so long I'm now teaching the children of former pupils at the school, and that is a very rewarding feeling."

A British educational export of whom we can be proud, it would seem.

Quite how much Dr Kamuzu Banda contributed to this enterprise is unclear. I googled him, because well, because "Banda" was also the name of the President of Malawi, Dr Hastings Banda, was it not? And it turned out that Dr Kamuzu Banda and Dr Hastings Banda were one and the same person.

Fair enough. Eton itself was started by someone pretty powerful, I shouldn't wonder.


Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:37 PM
Category: Africa
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