School enrolment swells amidst education challenges


The government has conceded that there is need for more teachers in primary and secondary schools as the number of learners is increasing at an alarming rate, with about one million learners joining Standard One in 2017 alone.

Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Bright Msaka, said this is why the government plans to construct teacher training colleges in Rumphi, Mchinji and Chikwawa districts.

“This is a major investment aimed at boosting the number of qualified teachers in our schools. We are mindful of the enrolment boom due to the introduction of Free Primary School Policy in 1994 and compulsory Primary education in 2013. In 2017 alone, we enrolled nearly one million pupils in Standard One,” Msaka said.


Ministry of Education, Science and Technology statistics indicate that the number of primary school learners in the country has increased to about five million.

“At the current average ratio of 70 learners to a teacher, the amount of work being handled by our teachers in class is daunting and is self-defeating on our aspirations of achieving quality education at the primary school level.

“Therefore, in order to achieve the desired quality of learning, and also to align ourselves to the regional average ratio of 45 learners to a teacher, there is need for more teachers in the sector,” Msaka said.


He added that, to promote access to primary education, the ministry is constructing primary schools in both rural and urban areas which, upon completion, will add to the 5,738 primary schools existing countrywide.

Some city schools are experiencing the challenge of congestion and Msaka singled out Chirimba Primary School in Blantyre, which has an enrolment of over 14,000 learners.

“Such schools are difficult to manage and pose serious sanitation challenges,” Msaka said.

On secondary education, Msaka said the key among the strategic objectives is to increase the transition rate from primary school to secondary school.

“The huge bottleneck from Standard Eight to Form One prevents a significant proportion of our population from accessing secondary education. Without a secondary education, the doors of employment opportunity are closed to most of our citizens, thus condemning them to lifelong poverty and forcing them to be dependent upon the State,” Msaka said.

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