Report tackles citizens’ vigilance
A latest annual Global Education Monitoring Report by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) says Malawi citizens can take government to court if their right to education is impinged on.
The report says despite the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number four (SDG 4) calling for 12 years free quality education for all, the quality of education in the country is suffering and that there is over 40 percentage point gap between the richest and poorest in attendance rates of pre-primary education.
“The right to education is justifiable in Malawi, which means that citizens can bring the government to court if their right to education is impinged upon” the report reads.
Unesco Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report, Manos Antoninis, has warned against a growing trend of results-based aid, which is used by many donors.
He says the practice shifts the risks to countries that can least afford it.
“In Malawi, only 54 percent of children complete primary school, 26 percent complete lower secondary, 15 percent complete upper secondary, and 5 percent of the poorest females and 7 percent of the poorest males complete lower secondary education. Around three in ten youth and four in ten adults cannot read, which in total means 3.5 million adults are not literate” reads the report.
The report further says: “There are 70 pupils per teacher in primary education. In addition, 90 percent of schools have basic drinking water, but only 26 percent have basic sanitation facilities. Where these facilities do exist, there can be 60 students per toilet.”
The report discloses that 24 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 are married, 44 of the poorest complete primary education compared to 100 of the richest and 67 of those in rural areas complete primary education, compared to 100 of the richest, and 9 of the poorest complete lower secondary education compared to 100 of the poorest.
The report has disclosed that there has been no public national education monitoring report since 2010, which is an essential transparency tool for allowing the public to hold the government to account for its responsibilities in education.
The report says in order to receive funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), for instance, Malawi must increase the female to male teacher ratio in Standards Six to Eight in the eight most disadvantaged districts.
Education expert, Steve Shara, has said the worrisome news in the report is on the growing inequality in educational opportunities in the country.
He said the richest Malawians see 100 percent of their children complete primary and secondary school, while for the poorest Malawians, only nine percent complete lower primary school and nationally, only 54 per cent of Malawian children complete primary school.
“The unfortunate part is that we entrench and re-create these inequalities every day, in how elites position themselves to monopolise the little resources available. We do very little to try and bridge the gap. We now live everyone for themselves. The consequences are going to be dire, if they have not already started manifesting themselves” Sharra said
He expressed concern that as a country Malawi has never managed to bridge the gap, despite trying some drastic measures, for example, Free Primary Education.
He further said the country education system is the bedrock of the social inequalities that hold the country back.
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