National Planning Commission (NPC) research findings indicate that Malawian children do not learn much about English at elementary level, resulting in a high failure rate.
It cites the English language pass rate in standard two, which stood at 25 percent at the time of the research. This means 75 percent of learners have a poor grasp of the English language as well as literature.
NPC further indicates that, in terms of mathematics, the pass rate stands at 60 percent, meaning that 40 out of every 100 learners have difficulties with figures.
“This is mostly due to extremely high learner-teacher ratios, especially in early years, as well as an insufficient number of classrooms and teachers not being properly trained,” said NPC Research Manager Andrew Jamali.
The research findings have been made public at a time NPC has identified education as one of the priorities as it seeks to promote inclusive wealth creation and self-reliance by 2063.
Researchers have recommended introduction of technology-assisted learning in primary schools, in-service teacher training and school feeding programmes as some of the solutions to the problems learners encounter.
The research was done with technical assistance from the African Institute for Development Policy and Copenhagen Consensus Centre.
Director of Basic Education in the Ministry of Education Grace Milner said the three interventions were already part of the Education Sector Investment Plan.
“We have technology-assisted learning, where learners in primary school are using tablets in pilot districts. After piloting the initiative, we can then roll it out,” she said.
Education expert Steve Sharra said a cost-benefit study indicated that the country needed to be careful in prioritising what it invests in.
The study shows that for K1 the country invests in technology learning, it would get back K106 while K1 spent on teachers’ training would bring back K22.
He said this shows that investments in education yield positive results.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.