Education in Malawi
The education sector has experienced tangible progress in Malawi. The primary school enrollment increased by 16% between 2008 and 2013 at an average annual growth rate of 4%. Yet, the sector faces multidimensional challenges such as inadequate school facilities, high pupil-teacher ratios, low learning achievement and huge capacity gap in school inspection and supervision.
To highlight few examples, more than 70% of eligible children do not have access to any form of early childhood education, the average primary student to classroom ratio increased from 105:1 in 2011/2012 to 124:1 in 2012/13, the pupil qualified teacher ratio worsened from 92:1 in 2011/12 to 95:1 in 2012/13, and the pass rates for the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) have been declining each year between 2006/07 and 2011/12 from 74.4% in 2006 to 68.9% in 2011.
To address these issues, Malawi has developed its Education Sector Implementation Plan II (2013/14 – 2017/18), which consists of five sub-sectors with their respective key objectives:
- Basic education encompasses early childhood development, complementary basic education that allows marginalized, out of school children and adults to access basic education, and general primary education. It aims to:
- Ensure that 50% of children reach standard 4 literacy/numeracy by 2017,
- Make teaching and learning materials available, and ensure that textbooks are not only available, but also optimally used,
- Make additional classrooms available,
- Ensure inclusion of all learners,
- Attain a motivated and high-performing teaching staff
- Increase internal efficiency of primary education, and
- Improve management/resource delivery.
- Secondary education aims to:
- Increase access,
- Improve quality and equity of secondary schools by narrowing the gap between conventional secondary schools and community day secondary schools,
- Improve secondary school management.
- Primary and secondary teacher training aims to:
- Enhance the quality of primary teacher training,
- Improve access to secondary teacher training,
- Improve quality of secondary teacher training.
- Technical and vocational education and higher education aim to:
- Increase access to technical colleges,
- Make technical colleges more adequate to the needs of the labor market,
- Provide a more coordinated policy and regulatory framework,
- Ensure quality of higher education,
- Improve financial resource mobilization, and
- Introduce a comprehensive management information system.
- Support services, which include system governance, management, policy development, and inspection and advisory services. Their main objective is to ensure that services be planned, budgeted and delivered on time
The plan addresses also three crosscutting issues: special needs, school health and nutrition, and gender.
Over the last five years, the government of Malawi has shown continued commitment to the education sector with the allocation of over 20% of the national budget towards education.
All amounts are in US dollars.
Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.
Primary Gross Enrollment Rate (%)
Primary Completion Rate (%)
Lower Secondary Completion Rate (%)
Out-of-school Children Rate (%)
Public Expenditure on Education as Share of GDP (%)
Public Expenditure on Education as a Share of Public Expenditure (%)
Public Expenditure on Primary as a Share of Total Education Expenditure (%)
Student/Trained teacher ratio
Teachers Trained (%)
GPE in Malawi
Malawi received a US$44.9 million for the period 2016-2020 to support the Malawi education sector improvement project (MESIP). The grant aims to: “improve the equity and quality of primary education service delivery in early grade levels with an emphasis on improved accountability and functioning at the school level by”:
- Improving equitable access for the most disadvantaged, especially girls
- Improving the retention and promotion rates at lower primary grades
- Improving the efficacy of interventions at the school, classroom and community level for better learning outcomes
- Removing barriers to girls' education for improved retention in upper primary grades.
The main components of the grant are:
- Performance-based school improvement grants for improving promotion and retention. The objective is to pilot the feasibility of improving promotion rates through addressing the inefficiencies of repetition and dropout in the primary education system.
- Improving equity for the most disadvantaged, including girls. This component aims to help reduce pupil classroom ratios in eight of the most disadvantaged districts in Malawi. It will also support the construction of classrooms, latrine blocks, and water points. All new school facilities will be constructed to ensure proper access for children with disabilities. The project will also train communities/local artisans in classroom construction and management to encourage local ownership and involvement.
- Improving learning outcomes, accountability, and cost- effectiveness at school level. This component will pilot cost-effective interventions targeting teachers and headmasters on how to improve classroom management in a resource constrained environment.
- Project management, and sector program support and coordination. This component will finance activities, consultants, and recurrent costs related to the project management and sector program facilitation.
For the variable part of the grant (30%), Malawi has selected the following indicators to be implemented in 8 of the most disadvantaged districts:
- 10 percent increase in Female to Male Teacher Ratio in grades 6-8
- 10 percent reduction in repetition rate in grades 1-4
- 20 percent reduction in Pupil Qualified Teacher Ratio (PqTR) in grades 1 and 2
Source: World Bank Project Appraisal Document. March 2016
The previous project supported by GPE and the four other partners has directly contributed to increasing access and equity, and to enhancing the quality of the teaching and learning environment in Malawi.
Key results of the first grant allocated by GPE and supported by other development partners include:
- 2,936 classrooms and 14 boarding facilities were constructed or rehabilitated.
- 70,052 students received bursary packages, with all beneficiaries still in school.
- 10,325 students received cash transfers to attend school. 94% of these students are still in school.
- 23,550 teachers received training to the open and distance learning program.
- 26 million textbooks have been procured.
- A human resource management system is in place at the national level.
- 1,462 head teachers received school management training.
- All schools received grants and support from the ministry to prepare strategic and annual work plans.