Malawi calls for better education

MP Ishmael Chafukira told parliament that the mushrooming CDSSs, which evolved from distance education centres, had contributed to the poor quality of education in the country, and alleged that most of these teachers “do not have necessary qualifications to teach in secondary schools”.

The government did not agree with the suggestion of closing CDSSs and argued that the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training was being pressured by the public to establish more schools. Education minister Anna Kachikho said closing the CDSSs would create problems for thousands of students.

Access to secondary school and declining standards of education have become major political and social preoccupations in Malawi. Analysts have blamed the government; President Bingu wa Mutharika’s government has blamed the preceding Bakili Muluzi administration, accusing it of corruption.

Limbani Nsapato, national coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition Quality Basic Education (CSCBE), commented, “I totally disagree with the proposal to close day secondary schools and I would rather agree with the minister [Kachikho] because we do not have enough conventional secondary schools in Malawi, and by closing these schools it means we are denying many people a chance to have secondary education.”

Free primary education was introduced in 1994, when government employed over 15,000 unqualified teachers to fill the gap, but according to education experts, the need to train more teachers was overlooked and this has lowered the standard of education.

Teachers in most CDSSs hold low qualifications and the infrastructure is poor, there is no equipment and many students are in dilapidated schools with poor sanitation.

Nsapato said improved funding was required to train more teachers, buy more school equipment and increase teachers’ salaries to “boost their morale”.

More pupils enrolled in primary schools meant the number of those selected for secondary school also increased, but there were not enough classrooms for them.

In the 2006/07 budget, Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe allocated 15.6 billion kwacha (US$112 million) of the total K137.7 billion (US$1 billion) to education, second only to the K16.8 billion (US$121 million) set aside for health. ‘ IRIN.

July 2006
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