Chipiliro was a salesman working for the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation in Malawi. He spent his weekends tutoring Form Four students (equivalent to the senior year of high school). One day a student suggested that he would be a great teacher, and handed him an ad for the DAPP Chilangoma Teacher Training College. With his interest piqued, Chipiliro discussed the idea with his family. They agreed he should try and he sent in his application and was quickly accepted.
Chipiliro describes the 2.5 years of training at DAPP Malawi's Chilangoma campus as “the whole package.” It cultivated his skills as a teacher and also trained him to become a leader. Chipilro recounts that one of the more interesting aspects of the program was learning to work collaboratively with his colleagues in solving problems and organizing community events. It was that experience that he relied on heavily as he ventured forth in his career as a primary school teacher in rural Malawi.
Chipiliro’s first posting was at Mathiya Primary School in Mathiya Village. Like many rural schools, MPS had no water, no road network, and no cellphone signal. The need for a good teacher was also very great, and Chipiliro quickly recognized that he could make an impact there.
One of his first projects was to launch a school improvement campaign. With few desks for students in the classrooms, Chipiliro mobilized parents and local leaders to donate lumber and other materials to make desks and chairs. Next, Chipiliro organized a youth club, which established a school garden and whose members competed in local soccer and other sporting competitions.
To address the school’s lagging performance, Chipiliro organized remedial lessons for students who had fallen behind. He held classes at 6:45 am before normal school hours and on weekends and holidays. Parents initially protested that the demands were too great on their children, but Chipiliro persisted. Within a year, he increased his Standard 8 (8th grade) students’ pass rates on the national examinations from 28% to 51%.
Word of Chipiliro’s work spread and he was recognized by the District Education Office for his accomplishments. The Office recommended him for a position at Nkaombe Primary School, where he taught Standard 8 (eighth grade). Within the year, he was able to again increase pass rates from 27% to 65%. His students performed so well that several were selected to attend prestigious Blantyre, Zomba, and Stella Maris national schools.
Despite his very full schedule, Chipiliro still finds time to continue learning and is pursuing a correspondence degree in theology.