Suspected, Accused, Fired & Assaulted

Nola Formentin, fired for allegedly emailing parents a reportedly ‘School Review type’ memo, later returned to campus to bid farewell to her students and colleagues. In a knee-jerk reaction, the management of St. Andrews International Primary School, Malawi, sent security to have her removed.

Overreacting, the G4S security guards, in full tactical garb, knocked Nola to the ground, bloodying her mouth. She has since left the country. However, witnesses will testify on her behalf in a pending court case against the guards, all of whom were jailed following the incident.

A ‘forensic investigation team’ contracted by the school later identified the campus computer used to compose and distribute the email. The team concluded it was composed and sent by a previous staff member, proving Nola had been falsely accused.

The Board of Governors, however, in the face of the forensic team’s findings as well as the court absolving Nola of all guilt, continues to hold her responsible for the email and apparently feels justified in their actions.

Westerners often feel a false sense of immunity from these types of injustices. Nevertheless, upon touchdown on a host country’s runway, we’re playing by their rules. The injustices such as those Nola experienced often go unreported and are kept under wraps by schools, Boards and Administrators, all acting on a hunch, out on a witch hunt.

ISR invites you to READ the complete Article that follows. Then return to this page to Comment. Parts of the Article are disturbing.

Please scroll down to Comment on this ISR Discussion

12 thoughts on “Suspected, Accused, Fired & Assaulted

  1. 1. I know this isn’t going to be a popular reply, but she should never have gone back on that campus after being let go…her desire or need to say good bye to people could have and should have taken part off campus.
    2. She also should get herself a good lawyer in Malawi and bring a case against the board and the head for wrongful dismissal and what ever else she is a victim of.
    I have been following the reviews written about the head and the school for the past year, it sounds like things are totally out of control. How this head of school thinks she can continue to lead this school after this final episode says so much about her….and of course the board for not dismissing the head.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think she had it ok’d by the school lawyers and admin (or so she thought). But yes, I think it should have taken place off campus. However, at least the parents of the children got to see the appalling act and are supportive of her.


    2. I agree. When reading this first time I noted Nola was not allowed to go on school property. I did see she asked a staff member but the people she should have asked were principal or board. The situation is between them and Nola. Being an international school you will be under local laws etc. people handle things differently and the actions maybe considered usual for that country. I have met quite a few teachers who bring their set of values and think it applies everywhere. I think this situation could have been avoided with a request to go to school with the correct people and follow the conditions outlined in the dismissal.


  2. You often see reviews from developing countries and the posters will give a 10/10 for personal safety. ‘Life in the bubble’ really does hold true and we all think it will never happen to us… Until it does.
    There are directors out there willing to balance protection of their staff, whilst also being realistic about the playing field of their host country. Hope and pray you have such a director.
    Also, do not be naive enough to think think this just happens in ‘for profit’ schools. There are many ‘top tier’ schools willing to throw a replaceable staff member under the bus, so as not to sacrifice more important reputations. Read the red flags. These places have finally tuned cover up skills.


  3. SAINTS in Blantyre seems to have fallen a long way since my time in Malawi back in the the late Nineties, when I taught at Kamuzu Academy, and the two international schools had a good reputation; the other being Bishop Mackenzie School in Lilongwe. However, there were awful problems with bullying in the country’s national secondary schools even then, and that post-dated the ousting of the former dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his vicious youth league of Young Pioneers. The SAINTS administration seem to be following in the footsteps of the bullying, patronising and genuflection led by the former Heads at Kamuzu Academy, which resulted in me having to approach lawyers. Thankfully that school is now led at long last by a competent professional Head with previous experience in an international school in Nepal, so it is possible to reform anti-social and unprofessional school cultures. Bishop Mackenzie School has thankfully maintained much of its good reputation. I wish good luck to the teachers at SAINTS. For all its difficulties, Malawi is a beautiful country and those who work there deserve to be treated as professionals and not subjected to intimidation.


  4. When we are professional administrators of quality and have integrity we sometimes have to say NO to owners and their ?!$? requests/requirements and teaching staff has no idea the price we pay for that…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There is a very different mindset in some of these for-profit schools. The concept that a staff member genuinely felt part of the community – No., it is ‘delete all evidence this person was ever here. We were only ‘responsible’ for the period in which she was was in our business. It’s over, job done, turn the page, next body in to continue to work,’ No wonder theses schools often have such disorganisation in their curriculum, as the concept of the value of hand-over notes is completely missing. They are forever in start-up mode.

    I have worked in for-profit schools, and reached out to invite them later to attend Teacher-PD courses I ran, or simply emailed the owner to say I was passing through the city city again; never a response. (We had parted amicably, one of them even said ‘;Thank You for what you have done.’). I can see on LinkedIn members of the organisation continue to follow my profile, even nearly a decade later, but now I think it is just a kind of paranoia in case I would turn around and discredit them in some way. The lawyers will be ready.

    So Nola’s reaching out, one last good-bye etc would have been interpreted completely differently from her Australian experience that the work of teaching has an authentic social element; her behaviour would have been seen as a threat, and she was treated accordingly. (Even if she had previously inquired and been given the ‘OK’ by someone, this may just have been interpreted as the kind of conversation one has to pass time, no one actually suspected she was being genuine, and would actually show up.)

    I despair sometimes at the poverty of these systems, the lack of understanding how professional teaching can be, and the fact so many children and developing communities believe this is what good education looks like. It is quite amazing that some of these children still thrive and make it to world universities etc. Does it make them kinder? Does it, as ‘survivors’, make them arrogant?

    My advice to Nola is, keep those memories of your past colleagues and students warm. Perhaps you will meet in the future on social media. Take it as lesson learned that cultures, particularly business cultures in different parts of the world, will be different. For example: what is seen as nepotism in Australia is ‘caring for friends and family members’ elsewhere.


  6. Reminds me of the Canadian from JIS who was rail-roaded by the RI’s stellar judiciary. Backwards countries jealousy’s of the West will never end until our downfall. By the bye, does anyone have a Magic Stone they can lend me?


    1. “Backwards countries jealousy’s of the West” – are you serious ? are you actually a teacher ?


  7. Yep. I wonder why the board wouldn’t just admit their mistakes… oh wait, it’s all in the name of covering their own butts.


  8. Do not count on the embassy to help you. Book a flight and leave today. No one will come to your rescue. This is the harsh reality of life abroad. Contact family, friends, or call your credit card company and explain the situation. If you are in good standing they will often front you the money needed to get home.
    Leave now!


  9. And so it has ever been……..because the quality and integrity of professional administrators is just NOT there and likely will never be.


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