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Inequalities persist in education

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Benedicto Kondowe

Unequitable distribution of resources continues being prominent in the education sector across the country, the 2021 Malawi Education Statistics Report shows.

Among other things, the report issued by the Ministry of Education concludes that 20,685 open-air classes predominantly in rural areas and Pupil Permanent Classroom Ratio (PPCR) of up to 1 to 147 affect quality of education the affected learners get.

At a time, health experts recommend a maximum number of 40 learners per class, the report says Rumphi has the lowest PPCR at one classroom to 53 while other districts have more than twice as much with Mangochi, Phalombe and Machinga at 140, 145 and 147, respectively.

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The report, however, shows that on average, the ratio of 1:102.3 pupils across the country is an improvement from 1:115 in 2015.

“At national level, there were 48,435 permanent classrooms in public schools and the permanent structures in the primary sub-sector have been changing in response to the growing demand resulting from increasing demand,” the report reads.

Instead of reducing the number of schools that are inaccessible during the rainy season, the report shows, such schools increased from 29.1 percent in 2020 to 31.43 percent and that pupils in at least 85 schools travel more than 10 kilometres (km) to school with pupils from 28 of the 85 schools actually travelling more than 15km.

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Commenting on the report, Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said policy planning and financing should be properly guided and coordinated in the education sector.

“It is true that there are inconsistencies in distribution of infrastructures and other things that are needed to deliver quality education.

“Deployment of teachers, infrastructure as well as teaching and learning materials is not properly guided to the extent that there are huge variations among schools even in the same districts, which affects the overall performance of the pupils,” Kondowe said.

He added that schools that are well resourced are likely to do better because they have access to better teaching materials, qualified teachers and permanent infrastructures.

“Government, therefore, has to take a deliberate policy that seeks to promote equity in the distribution of inputs in the overall delivery of quality education,” Kondowe said.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the ministry was preparing another report which will show improved statistics.

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