Happy Classrooms

Primary Education 6-12 years

Before boNGO

After boNGO

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Images of a traditional classroom

The Happy Classroom Project transforms bare classrooms into a curriculum based print-rich environment, giving the teachers and students a more stimulating and interactive learning and teaching experience.
The usual primary school classroom is dark and bare. About 150 children are taught by one teacher with no resources available in that room. Most learners and teachers struggle.

Malawian teachers try to decorate their classrooms themselves and produce hand-made teaching posters. The Happy Classrooms Programme does it for them in a high quality and lasting way.

The Happy Classrooms Programme creates a child-friendly environment for pupils and provides teachers with durable teaching aids through painting classrooms with syllabus-related print-rich items. It is easily replicable in countries facing similar education challenges to Malawi.

Within a week a standard classroom can be transformed into a Happy Classroom. The initial maintenance of the walls has to be undertaken by the schools. Following two of boNGO’s painting artists decorate the walls with curriculum based charts. These drawings are carefully selected in co-operation with the school leaders and teachers. Once the Happy Classroom is finished the teachers receive an initial training about the use and care of the decorations. They can last up to 10 years and through that allow 1500 students to learn in a more stimulated environment.

Some of the benefits that have been noted by schools:

Programmes happy classrooms after (1)

Image of a boNGO Happy Classroom

Supporting a Happy Classroom is a great thing. It lasts for about 8 to 10 years and benefits roughly 1500 children and their teachers. It costs around $800 £640, depending on:
– The condition of the walls
– Location of the classroom
–  The number of Happy Classrooms painted simultaneously

The Happy Classroom can be an original and meaningful present. We shall send you pictures of the classroom BEFORE and AFTER together with a gift certificate. Your name or company logo can be written on the wall.


Teacher training per school 


building materials, transport and other operational costs different for each classroom


painting materials and labour per Happy Classroom

65 percent of people are visual learners!

Between 2011 and 2020 about 1000 Happy Classrooms were painted all over Malawi.

How the HCP started and developed (2011 – 2021)

See the Happy Classrooms Facebook Album 


We would like to share our knowledge of Happy Classrooms and welcome interest from other NGO who would like to replicate our success. Please contact us for further information.

Sponsor a Happy Classroom – $800 £640 

With your one-time contribution a Happy Classroom can be painted and all teachers at the school trained to fully utilize the Happy Classrooms environment.

Each Happy Classrooms lasts for about 8-10 years before it needs to be repainted and will provide the environment to educate around 1000 pupils.

Our painters can paint your name or your company logo on the classroom wall. 

Learn more about our Happy Classrooms

  • When we followed the children from boNGO’s Model Childcare Centers  to primary schools, it was clear what a step down it is for them. Classrooms at the Malawian government schools are bare, dark, overcrowded (up to 250 pupils!) and lacking text books. Teaching is limited to oral learning and repetition, and children fail to concentrate. Some are left behind, losing interest, unable to follow what the teacher is explaining. That is especially a problem in the early grades when reading, writing and basic math are being taught – the essential pre-requisites for every person’s future studies.

Watch a short video from the national contest Spelling Bee 2021 which demonstrates the children’s poor literacy skills

Finding a comprehensive and long-term solution to this ongoing problem is a huge task and so boNGO came with an immediate and concrete improvement.

We painted a classroom at Nankumba primary school (Southern Malawi, 20 km off the Blantyre city – perhaps a google maps link) with child-friendly and syllabus-related decorations. The effect was immediate:

 concentration and understanding were enhanced

  •  Concentration and understanding were enhanced
  • Teachers started using more teaching methods
  • An interesting phenomenon was observed – pupils teaching each other after and between lessons

boNGO saw a huge potential in the decorated walls and raised funds to paint another 50 classrooms. Two professional painters were hired, and a Painting Manual was developed – a collection of graphics for grade 1 & 2.

Thus the Happy Classrooms Program (HCP) started.

  • Pupils learn in a stimulating environment
  • Teachers have a variety of interactive teaching aids
  • Concentration is enhanced and discipline improved; learning is more enjoyable
  • Exam passing rates improve by about 30%
  • Self-studying and peer teaching is encouraged
  • Teachers are trained to use a broader variety of teaching methods
  • Teachers use less time on production of teacher posters
  • Schools save money on buying markers and flipcharts
  • Each Happy Classroom lasts about 8-10 years before it needs to be repainted and benefits roughly 1000 children and their teachers
  • Other community members benefit e.g. adult literacy groups

Since 2011 about 1000 Happy Classrooms have been painted in 250 primary schools. Each year about 124,000 pupils benefit from the program (average number of pupils per class is 124 (source: World bank 2013)). Since 2014 our Happy Classrooms are also painted in grades 3&4.

Each Happy Classrooms costs around $800.  It depends on:

         The condition of the walls  (some are not even plastered)

         The distance from Blantyre (where boNGO is located)

         The number of classrooms painted simultaneously


The Happy Classrooms are mostly funded by:

         Malawian companies (Corporate Social Responsibility)

         International NGOs contracting boNGO to paint Happy Classrooms in their catchment areas

         Companies, clubs and churches from abroad

         Foreign travellers who visited the Happy Classrooms

Phases of the Happy Classrooms Program:

  • Identification of a funding partner and the selection of a benefiting primary school (carried out by boNGO and the funding partner)
  • Meeting with the local representatives of the Ministry of Education (the District Education Manager and Primary Education Advisors) to introduce the HCP and share responsibilities (carried out by boNGO)
  • Meeting with the Head-teacher, Teachers, School Committees, Parents’ & Teachers’ Committees, Village Development Committees, Mothers’ Groups and traditional authorities to introduce the HCP and share responsibilities – preparing classrooms, providing accommodation for the painters, discussing what is painted on the walls and what extra requirements the school has (carried out by boNGO)
  • Purchase of paints and other materials, distribution to schools. (carried out by boNGO)
  • Classrooms preparation – walls are cleaned with water and soap, and sometimes plastered (carried out by primary schools)
  • Painting the Happy Classrooms – about 6 days per class (carried out by boNGO painters)
  • Training teachers to use the Happy Classroom walls during lessons, and the distribution of the Happy Classrooms Teachers’ Guide. The training is compulsory for ALL teachers because they swap classes every year (carried out by boNGO)
  •  Monitoring of lessons and evaluation, extra consultations provided to teachers if needed (carried out by boNGO in cooperation with the District Education Manager and Primary Education Advisors)

It is not boNGO’s intention to simply continue painting more Happy Classrooms. We want to share the HCP know-how with other NGOs so that it is simultaneously replicated at various locations in Malawi and eventually reaches all Malawian primary schools (about 6000).

The long-term vision is that the HCP concept becomes an integral part of every newly constructed primary school in Malawi and other countries facing similar educational challenges. That must be done through the policy makers at government and UN level.

  • Sponsoring one Happy Classroom costs $800 £640
  • With your one-time contribution a Happy Classroom is painted and all teachers at the school are trained
  • your name or company logo can be painted on the walls