Malawi SDNP Education in Malawi

Education System in Malawi

Primary Schools
Secondary Schools
colleges University


Malawi has an 8-4-4 education system consisting of primary school, secondary school and university education. The educations system in Malawi faces many challenges in most areas including areas of access, equity, quality and internal efficiency. In its publication; A Policy and Investiment Framework for Education in Malawi 1995-2005, the Ministry of Education has covered most of these challenges and problems and also outlined government policy being put in place to address them.

Primary School
Most children start formal education at primary school at the age of six. The primary school takes 8 years from Standard 1 to 8 at the  end of which pupils write the Primary School Leaving Certificate examinations. These are jointly set, conducted and marked by the Ministry of Education and the Malawi Nationnal Examinations Board (MANEB). Students have to pass and get selected if they are to attend secondary school education in a governement secondary school.

The introduction of Free Primary Education in Malawi has seen a large increase in the number of pupils going to primary school but this increase in access has also brought major infrastructure problems and a big decline in quality.

Secondary School
Secondary school education takes 4 years from Form 1 to Form 4. Students can attend seecondary school in public schools run by the goivernment or in private schools run by the private sector and individuals. The quality of secondary education varies widely inn both sets of schools. In generaly, fess in private schools is more than 50 times that in public schools.  For along time, secondary education was very restrictive in Malawi but this situation is changing positively due to rapid expansion of private schools as well as government run community day secondary schools. A directory of schools in Malawi will be presented here in the near future.

Students in secondary schools sit two examinations, a Junior Certicate Examination (JCE) at Form 2 and a Malawi School Certificate Examination (MSCE) at Form 4. Both of these examinations are set by MANEB but joiuntly administered by MANEB and the Ministry of Education. Performance or pass rate at MSCE have been falling sharply in the last few years reaching a low of around 16% in 1999 prompting a Presidential Commission of Enquiry into the dismal performance. In these recent years MSCE administration has been beset with many serious cheating cases resulting in governemnet canncellation of the examination in 2000 less than one week before commencement of sitting and dismisal of the head of MANEB.

Selection takes place at Form 4 to various colleges including vocational colleges, technical colleges and to the only two universities, the University of Malawi and the University of Mzuzu.

The Univeristy of Malawi, opened in 1965, offers a wide range of bachelors degree and a few masters degree courses through its 5 constituent colleges widely spread out in the Central and Southern Regions of Malawi. The recently opened Mzuzu University situated in the Northen Region, offers an education degree course but has plans to open other areas of training in the near future. Most students to the University of Malawi are government sponsored on full scholarships. This is changing in 2001 as the University has announced a significant increase in fees in a measure to increase cost-sharing and improve its dwindling resources that come from government to run its programmes. The University of Mzuzu started out with nearly fully economic fees from its very begining in 1997.

Other oportunities do exist in Malawi for children who need to attend school. Kindergartens are available in urban centres where children can attend pre-school tuition in the ages 0-6 years. Almost all these are run by  private individuals or organisations.

A few private high schools are available mostly in Kasungi, Blantyre and Lilongwe that run British style A-Level courses and examinations. However most of these require fees which are well outside the reachability of almost all Malawians.

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