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‘Education standards continue deteriorating’

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Benedicto Kondowe

Education experts and other stakeholders have described 2021’s education sector performance as an assortment of good and bad.

The sector, according to the stakeholders, has performed well in some areas while it needs serious improvement in others.

Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said despite Ministry of Education having done well in improving its budget allocation by 17 percent in 2021-22 financial year, training more teachers, providing bursaries to the needy and constructing school blocks and teachers’ houses, it has in some areas performed badly.

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Kondowe said education standards continue deteriorating, adding teachers are trained year in, year out but very few are employed and there is weak response to the Covid-19 pandemic and little allocation to special needs education, thereby killing the future of children living with disabilities.

“Education is a powerful tool to development of the country. If we mess up the education sector, it means we are killing our nation,” Kondowe said.

He said 2021 was a bad year at Ministry of Education as, among others, it had a weak accreditation system, allowing some students to study programmes that are not accredited by National Council for Higher Education.

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Parliamentary Committee on Education described 2021 as a year of more challenges than successes in the education sector.

Chairperson of the committee Brainax Azizi Kayisi said funds allocated to secondary schools, for example, were not disbursed in time, thereby affecting schools’ operations.

Kayisi said this challenge directly impacted on students’ performance in class.

“Imagine that some schools were operating on debts. Others completely dry because they had nowhere to borrow resources. This has never pleased us,” Kayisi said.

He also lamented high school dropout rates which he said were common in Mangochi and Nkhotakota.

However, Kayisi said Malawi National Examinations Board performed well in 2021 as no examination leakage was reported.

Ministry of Education Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa recently said the ministry has made tremendous efforts to improve education standards in the country.

Mussa said drilling of boreholes to curb water shortages in schools, implementing low-coast infrastructure projects in some primary schools and employing additional teachers are examples that are meant to improve education in the country.

However, Mussa said the country can attain high education standards only if stakeholders work together.

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