Malawi SDNP Education in Malawi

Malawi Government

A policy and Investment Framework for Education in Malawi

Ministry of Education
Private Bag 328
Lilongwe 3

Primary Schools
Secondary Schools
colleges University



Since the advent of the Free Primary Education, the Malawi Government has maintained that the provision of education needs to be well-planned, and priorities drawn out. The government has maintained that the provision of education is a collaborative effort between the government itself, the local community, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and donor community. The government has further maintained that it is to facilitate the provision of education and take the driving seat, thereby offering a clear policy direction to the provision of education.

It is noted with great satisfaction that that the development of the Policy and Investment Framework (PIF) has followed the same pattem. From the time the first draft was done, all key stake holders in education have been invited to study and make written comments on each subsequent draft. Twice in the life of drafting the document, all stakeholders were called together to examine it. Every policy regarding each education subsector: primary, secondary, technical and tertiary was examined in relation to investment costs required to achieve the target derived from the policies. Based on this, in each subsector, prioritised scenarios were arrived at. The deten-nining factor on each prioritised scenario was assessed on its implernentability and sustainability of the programmes involved in the next ten years.

The Policy and Investment Framework is a living document. Consequently, several annexes have grown out of it. The annexes deal specifically with the following areas: secondary school teacher development programme, school nutrition and health, procurement of teaching and learning materials, primary teacher development programme, and procurement and distribution of teaching and learning. materials. These documents and others are being developed as annexes to the Policy and Investment Framework which spell out in detail the implementation of prioritised programmes reflected in the main document. The Ministry still welcomes substantive observationson thepolicy and investment framework, which will be incorporated into the document at each review process.

Finally, let me express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to all donors for their financial support in the production of the PIF; individuals - too many to mention, from the donor community, private sector, non-governmental organisations and govemment ministries, including my own. It is the government's hope that this document shall be used widely.

SDD Safuli (Ph.D)
Secretary for Education


The Ministry of Education is in the process of developing a ten-year Education Plan alias Policy and Investment Framework. The process to arrive at the Policy and Investment Framework has been through consultative meetings with donors, nongovernmental organisations, (NGOs), private sector and specialised task forces drawn from the Ministries of Finance; Economic Planning and Development; Women and Children's Affairs, Community Development and Social Welfare; Local Government, and parastatals in the education sector, and the Ministry of Education itself. These have put together a draft Policy Investment Framework (PIF) which spells out government policy and programmes for the next ten years, and is supported by the Investment Section which has two basic scenarios.

Scenario 1 (a high-cost scenario)

This assumes that the country's macro-econon-dc situation will steadily improve over the next ten years and the government will meet all its intended targets in the primary and secondary sector by the year 2005. This also assumes that education is the only priority area.

Scenario 1 (recommended scenario)

This assumes a positive macro-economic situation, but that education is not the only priority area. The executive summary has highlighted the investment generated by the needs in the primary and secondary sectors, and critical areas in tertiary education, eg, technical, teacher training, higher education, and the recommended implementable and sustainable investment within the next ten years. The PIF provides a framework within which an integrated sector approach to education development will be implemented.

Policy direction for the next ten years (1995-2005)

The primary level

The primary education system is beset with serious problems in areas of access, equity, quality and internal efficiency. To address the more compelling of these problems, the following policy direction is being proposed.


The average net enrolment ratio is at 71% (1994/95) with district variations ranging from 97% to 46%. The female net enrolment ratio is at 74%. Before the end of the plan period, the government plans to achieve a target net enrolment ratio of 90%.

To achieve this target, the government has already abolished all fees and instituted Free Primary Education. This strategy has resulted in a boom enrolment of 3.2 million which is expected to reach a peak at 3.6 million by 2005. A careful analysis shows that the government will not be able to meet all the costs required to come up with the infrastructure needed, ie, 38,000 classrooms to meet the needs of an expanded primary education. The government will therefore strengthen partnerships among all sectors with a view that 60% of the financing will be provided by the government and the partners meet the 40% gap. To ensure that children do not drop out of school due to long distances between home and school, the government will facilitate the development of junior community schools by the private sector, local community, NGOs and the donor community to cater for Standards 1-4.


The government is concerned with the low participation of marginalised children in the primary education. The government has already instituted several interventions to ensure equity, eg, through the Girls Attainment in Basic Literacy and Education (GABLE) Project, the curriculums have been made gender-sensitive, and through Sight Savers (UK), an itinerant programme for the visually-impaired has been launched.

To further eliminate inequities, the government's design of buildings will take cognisance of the comfort of children with special needs. Affirmative action will be taken to increase secondary school places allocated to children with special needs. Subventions to special education schools will be increased and the number of trained special education teachers will be increased.


There are a number of issues related to the quality of education in primary schools. The most pressing of these are a high ratio of national qualified teacher-to-pupil (1:85), lack of inservice for qualified teachers, generally overcrowded classrooms, oversubscribed schools, inadequate furniture (1:6) and textbooks (1:4), a critical shortage of teachers'houses (35,575), and poor delivery systems of teaching and learning materials.

To improve quality, the government will:

1. Ensure that the qualified teacher-pupil ratio is maintained at 1:60 in the Plan Period

2. Provide regular inservice training to all teachers through the school based inservice programmes to be introduced

3. Reduce the high classroom-pupil ratio to 1:60

4. Reduce the school size to a school population of about 1,000 pupils

5. Provide furniture (464,000 desk benches) for all the classrooms

6. Improve the textbook-pupil ratio to one textbook per two pupils as an intermediate target during the Plan Period

7 Put in place an efficient mechanism for ensuring that all teaching/learning materials get to the classrooms

8. Provide three-bedroom houses and headteacher's house at each new school with an enrolment of 960 pupils

9. Train all the 18 000 paraprofessional teachers within the next four years.

Internal efficiency

On average, only 23% of a cohort completes eight years of primary school. Girls' dropout rate is 10% and boys' is 8%. Due to high repetition rates, on average, it takes about 12 years to produce one primary school graduate. The government ww institute strategies to reduce both dropout and repetition rates to less than 5% in Standards one to seven and 15% in Standard eight by the year 2005.

Strengthening partnerships and decentralisation

The government will encourage and strengthen partnerships in educational development and management with local communities, nongovernmental organisations, the private sector and the donor community. Key to this partnership is decentralised management. The government is therefore developing a detailed document on community articipation and management in primary education.

Financing option

To ensure a sustainable investment programme in the primary subsector, the government has a target of constructing 7,000 classrooms (438 schools), providing 21,000 desk benches, and rehabilitating 3,000 classrooms during the Plan Period. AU paraprofessional teachers will be trained within the next four years.

On provision of teaching and learning materials a ratio of 1:2 is recommended. To meet all these objectives and targets, expenditure is expected to rise from K796 million in 1994/95 to K902 million in 2004/2005 (see table 2).

The secondary school level

The main policy issues cover the following areas: access, quality, equity, cost sharing, strengthening partnerships and provision of day schools.


To meet the present social demand for secondary school places, there is need to create 30,000 additional Form 1 secondary school places, or 250 day secondary schools of 480-student capacity. There is also need to train about 6,000 additional teachers within the Plan Period. Careful analysis indicates that the human, financial and implementation capacity of the country cannot support such a heavy investment. Therefore, to ensure sustainable development, it is recommended that the goverment initially builds 25% of the day secondary schools required. This will provide 8,760 additional Form 1 places. Rural day schools will constitute 73% of the target, and shift day schools in urban areas will form 27%.

To take care of primary school clusters too small to warrant establishment of a 480-student day secondary school and topographically inaccessible areas, it is recommended that smaller capacity day schools ranging from 160-320-student capacity be established in these areas. This will provide 6,000 additional places with a teacher requirement of 400.


Issues of quality hinge around adequate instructional materials, state of repairs of buildings and adequate teachers, among other things. To improve and sustain quality, the government will, during the Plan Period, establish a textbook fund financed by student book user fees paid annually, and proceeds from royalties and licensing fees to be used for textbook replacement. The government will establish maintenance units in each Education Division.


To ensure full participation of girls and children with special needs in the conventional secondary schools, the government intends to constantly review quotas for girls' enrolment from the current 33% towards 50% as the pool of female candidates increases. It will continue to integrate children with special needs in the conventional secondary schools using affirmative action.

Cost sharing

The government policy will be to constantly review school fees with the intention of decreasing government subsidy towards 50% of the cost of providing secondary education.

Strengthening partnerships

The government cannot on its own meet the socialdemand for secondary school places. It will therefore encourage individuals and private organisations to establish private schools, whether they be boarding or day schools. To ensure quality education in private schools, the government will facilitate the establishment of an independent regulatory institution for private schools. A Parent Teacher Association shall be established at every secondary school.

The Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE)

The enrolment in distance education is a response to social demand for secondary education. The effect is the uncontrolled growth of the Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) and overcrowded classrooms at study centres, with an average classroom-pupil ratio of 1:120, whilst the classroom instruction is carried out by underqualified supervisors. The government will therefore institute measures so that the classroom-pupil and supervisor-pupil ratio is at 1:70. To achieve this target, the government will provide some building materials to Local Education Authorities for construction of classrooms at distance education centres but will not support provision of boarding facilities. To ensure that distance education students receive adequate instructional materials and quality supervision, the government will ensure that all primary teacher qualified supervisors who meet the criteria are upgraded to a diploma level in the next 5 years. The production of sets shall be privatised within the next 2 years.

Financing option

In the recommended scenario of constructing 25% of day secondary schools and controlled growth of distance education, the resource requirement slowly grows from MK162 million to MK215 million (see table 2) during the Plan Period.

Teacher training (secondary school level)

The current secondary school teacher output from the Domasi College of Education and the University of Malawi is about 150 teachers per year. During the Plan Period, the government ir, tends to provide 47,400 additional secondary school places. Correspondingly, there will be need to train about 800 teachers. Furthermore, the government intends to upgrade about 1,500 MCDE tutors to diploma level. To meet these targets, the government will consider the option of expanding Domasi
College of Education and diversifying its programmes, or establishing a second college of education.

The teacher shortage is compounded by the current system in the University of Malawi where programmes essentially prepare the teachers to teach one subject. The practice in the secondary school is to have a teacher teach two subjects to meet the ratio of 1:26 teacher-pupil ratio. The government shall, in collaboration with the University of Malawi, consider the reintroduction of programmes in which teachers graduate with two majors.

The cost of training and maintaining teachers for 250 secondary schools rises from MK18 million to MK153 million (see table 1) while in this recommended scenario, the expenditure rises from MK18 to MK72 million (see table 2).


Vocational/technical education

Technical education was introduced with the objective of training students for professional roles such as skilled personnel and
technologists in various production areas, and servicing the formal and informal sectors. The current curriculum is not meeting the relevant needs of the individual and society in as far as this area is concerned. The government will therefore review the curriculum to make it more relevant, and emphasis will be on entrepreneurship education at primary, secondary and post-secondary level.

Decentralisation of management, administration and financial functions

The government shall facilitate further the decentralisation process already started during the Second Education Development Plan (1985-1995). Five education divisions and 31 education districts have been established. These divisions shall have the following decentralised functions: planning services, accounting services, methods advisory services and administration of all educational institutions in their divisions. All districts will provide some aspects of planning (statistical services, monitoring and evaluation of projects). Education methods advisory services and monitoring of distribution of supplies will be done by all district education officers.

The University of Malawi (UNIMA)

Access to university education is very constrained, and is principally determined by the School Certificate grades. The government will continue this practice. The user fees will constantly be reviewed towards economic fee. A percentage of the available places will be reserved for private and external students for purposes of academic enrichment. The government will continue to run a student loan scheme to needy students. To enhance access, the government will facilitate the establishment of private institutions of higher learning.

The Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA)

A study undertaken by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for the Malawi Government in 1988 estimated that there was a 42% shortage of accounting personnel in Malawi. A five-year strategic plan 1989/90-1993/94 was formulated to train 70 professional accountants and 130 accounting technicians. In 1989, a survey revealed that out of the 2,283 government accounting personnel, 83% were untrained. The government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) came up with a 5-year project to train 2,622 accountants. There is still a high demand for professional accountants and accounting technicians. The government will expand the Blantyre campus of the Malawi College of Accountancy and put up a purpose-built college in Lilongwe to meet this need.

The Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB)

The Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) will continue to endeavour to improve the efficient delivery of the Primary School Leaving Certificate, Junior Certificate, Malawi School Certificate, Teachers Certificate and Craft Certificate examinations. The government will review the relevance of each examination with a view to abolishing that which has outlived its usefulness.

The Malawi Institute of Education (MIE)

The needs of the Malawi Institute of Education (MIE) are directly related to the needs created by curricular review, strategies for improving the quality of education, and interventions for improving the professional skills of teachers and other personnel required for efficient and effective delivery of educational services. Government will provide additional resources at MIE determined by needs in the primary and secondary subsectors.

The National Library Service (NLS)

To sustain literacy levels, formal basic education graduates must have access to reading materials. The government will support the National Library Service (NLS) programme of running and supporting school libraries and rural libraries to sustain literacy among graduates of the Adult Literacy Programme and primary school leavers.

The Malawi National Commission for UNESCO (UNESCO NATCOM)

To ensure self sufficiency, improved efficiency and long-terrn sustainability of the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO (NATCO) and its programmes, the Commission plans to construct a UNESCO Centre whose main objective is to provide facilities for educational and cultural activities - a resource and documentation centre for UNESCO publications. The government will facilitate and support the construction of the UNESCO Centre.

Rationalisation of programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation

The Planning Division of the Ministry of Education will have an overall responsibility to oversee the execution and implementation of all the strategies and programmes spelt out in this document while the controlling officers/chief executives will be responsible for implementing policies affecting their departments or institutions. The Planning Department with the collaboration of the Education Development Management Unit (EDMU) will rationalise community-based approaches to ensure that no communities are enticed to favour one donor-funded project to the detriment of another. The Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Unit of the Planning Division will coordinate the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the policies. The expertise of such research and evaluation institutions as the Centre for Social Research (CSR), Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT), Economic Planning and Development (EP&D) and Monitoring Unit, will be employed. The major monitoring and evaluation tool will be the perfon-nance indicators which will be developed by all key players in the education sector.


To meet all the targets in the high-cost scenarios, recurrent expenditure rises from MKI 007 million in 1994/95 to MK2 291 million in 2004/05 (see table 1). In the recommended scenario, the recurrent expenditure rises from MK1 007 million in 1994/95 to MK1 263 million in 2004/05. The financing gap is higher in the cost scenario, rising from MK22 million in 1994/95 to MK493 millioift, and the development expenditure gap rises from MK2 million in 1994/95 to MK295 million (see table 3) in 2004/05.

In the recommended scenario, there are assumed savings in the development expenditure (see table 4). This is due to the fact that the base cost for constructing a shell structure is on the lower side than the actuals coming out of the pilot programme. It is therefore recommended that the government seriously considers adopting scenario II (recommended scenario) as it takes into account the critical needs of the tertiary subsector - and is implementable and sustainable.

|Home | Primary|Secondary| Colleges |University |
| Ministry of Education |
Copyright Malawi SDNP



(c) 2008 Malawi SDNP