Donors advise Malawi on free secondary education


By Macdonald Thom:

The country’s development partners have said following the abolition of some fees in public secondary schools, there is need for the government to find sustainable and effective financial solutions to compensate for the decreased financial contribution from students.

During the opening of 2018 Education Joint Sector Review meeting in Lilongwe Monday, European Union (EU) Deputy Head of Mission, Lluis Navarro said although the decision will reduce the number of dropouts due to financial reasons, quality of secondary education can be affected.


“As we all know, like the primary schools, many secondary schools are struggling with a lack of qualified teachers, lack of teaching and learning materials and lack of infrastructure such as adequate classrooms, ICT [information and communication technology] facilities, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, hostels… Furthermore, transition rate from primary to secondary remains disappointingly low due to intake capacity in the secondary schools,” Navarro said.

He added: “It is, therefore, crucial that sustainable and effective financial solutions are found to compensate for the decreased financial contribution from the students in order to ensure that we can continue increasing access to and quality of secondary school education in Malawi.”

Navarro urged the government to address challenges being experienced in the new National Education Sector Investment Plan.


Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Bright Msaka, said the abolition of the fees will encourage enrolment and continuity in secondary schools.

He also said there are initiatives to ensure quality education in the country.

“In order to address the challenge of access to, and quality of secondary education, the Government, with support from development partners, will soon start expanding infrastructure in the secondary sub-sector. There are plans to expand over 80 existing secondary schools and construct about 200 new secondary schools,” Msaka said.

He also said in addition, more secondary school teachers will be trained and recruited with much focus on science subject teachers.

“The ultimate goal is to increase space and quality at secondary school level. There must be a secondary school within easy reach of every child,” he said.

The minister also said the unbundling of the University of Malawi will see the creation of three new universities. He said this will improve access to higher education, and achieve efficiency in management.

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