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Study exposes education gaps

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

FUEL INEQUALITIES—Classrooms in poor conditions

A study report on closing the inequality gap in children’s education attainment in Malawi says the government is failing to resolve gaps in the education sector, 54 years after independence.

The study was conducted by local and international education experts including lecturers at the University of Strathclyde of the United Kingdom (UK), University of Aberdeen, UK, and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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According to the report, inadequate textbooks, teaching resources and classrooms, household poverty, poor conditions of roads and long distance to school are among factors contributing to inequalities in children’s education.

It further points out significant inequalities in the education systems with children from disadvantaged backgrounds performing below those from better-off backgrounds.

In both rural and urban areas, there are schools serving children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Fewer to none of the children progress to national, conventional or Community Day Secondary Schools at the end of the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education examinations,” reads part of the report.

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Speaking during the dissemination of the findings in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Edward Sosu of the University of Strathclyde, said effects of multidimensional poverty were some of the reasons for the poor educational outcomes.

“We also found other socio-cultural, educational and policy practices that affect access to quality education and children’s educational attainment. Within these, socio-cultural, educational and school-parent engagements are key influencers of access to quality education,” Sosu said.

Director of Basic Education in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Gossam Mafuta, acknowledged the challenges besetting the education sector in the country.

“We are aware of learners walking long distances to school, overcrowding and unsafe schools, poor quality of teaching in addition to issues of school fees, uniforms and other supplies that many families are unable to afford.

“Government, through the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with other relevant ministries, has embarked on several strategies aimed at finding lasting solutions to the problems,” Mafuta said.

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