A US$10 million grant will support the implementation of the country’s comprehensive COVID-19 education response.
Allocation: US$10 million
Grant agent: UNICEF
The government will be working with national internet providers and radio broadcasting corporations to ensure distance learning initiatives are accessible to students. The funding will support:
- solar powered radios and tablets to support innovative digital learning solutions for vulnerable children with limited access to electricity
- a toll-free hotline to provide additional support to lessons
- training to teachers and education managers who provide online teaching programs
- awareness campaigns to encourage parents to support home learning remedial support by teachers once schools reopen to help students through assessments, accelerated learning and second chance opportunities.
These initiatives are based on the Ministry of Education’s COVID-19 response plan.
In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Malawi received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in its response to the pandemic. The funds were used to strengthen the coordination and implementation of the response at the national and subnational levels, and to support the crisis management team.
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.
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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
All amounts are in US dollars.
|Grant type||Years||Allocations||Disbursements||Grant agent|
|2016||45,050,000||31,343,524||World Bank||Progress report|
|2010-2015||90,000,000||90,000,000||World Bank||Completion report|
|Sector plan development||2013-2015||250,000||250,000||World Bank|
|Program development||2015-2016||313,569||319,114||World Bank|
GPE has also provided the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) with a grant from the Civil Society Education Fund, to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.
Education sector progress
The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Malawi, and GPE data shows the country progress on 16 indicators monitored in the GPE Results Framework.
Primary Completion Rate (%)
Lower secondary completion rate
Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age
Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age
Pre-primary gross enrollment rate
Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary
Public Expenditure on Education as Share of GDP (%)
Students/trained teacher ratio
Teachers Trained (%)
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.