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Malawi needs K3 trillion to seal secondary school gap

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Agnes Nyalonje

Malawi needs about K2.85 trillion to construct 949 secondary schools at the rate of K3 billion per school to double the transition rate of students from primary to secondary school from 37.73 percent to 76 percent.

The need for additional secondary schools in the country became more pronounced on Monday when Education Minister Agnes Nyalonje admitted that there is a “severe shortage of secondary school spaces”, resulting in a lucky few accessing secondary education services in public schools.

Nyalonje said, out of 225,387 students that passed the 2019/20 standard eight examinations, only 84,947 had been selected to secondary school, representing only 37.73 percent.

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And, in response to the minister’s announcement, Oxfam Country Director Lingalireni Mihowa said in a statement issued Tuesday that this year’s selection is a recipe for inequality in the country.

“This is demotivating for the learners, disheartening for the parents and unacceptable for the nation… The inability to facilitate our 140,440 learners to automatically transition into secondary school education this year is a tragedy, as this has a direct negative impact on the economic and social development and growth of the country,” she said.

Mihowa observed that many children from poor households depended on public services such as public education.

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Meanwhile, Oxfam has called upon the country’s development partners and the private sector to support the government’s efforts to construct more secondary schools to accommodate more learners.

At a private sector gala held at Sanjika palace on December 7 last year, Nyalonje said: “My ministry’s immediate vision is to construct 34 top quality secondary schools, one in each of the 34 education districts, costing a minimum total of K100 billion.”

At the gala at least K500 million was realised in pledges.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Chikondi Chimala, said one has to understand that the country has had these shortages for over 50 years now.

“We want to change the trajectory that sees a lot of learners fail to get space not because they failed but, rather, because there is no space. The 34 secondary schools will be triple-stream and go a long way in solving the problem of space shortage in our schools,” Chimala said.

The government is, among other initiatives, also banking its hopes on the K65.4 billion Secondary Education Expansion for Development Project being funded by the government of the United States, through the United States Agency for International Development, to expand and build 250 schools secondary schools across the country.

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