COVID-19 response

A US$10 million grant will support the implementation of the country’s comprehensive COVID-19 education response.

Allocation: US$10 million

Years: 2020-2022

Grant agent: UNICEF

Key documents:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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Latest grant

Teacher Maureen Kaunda helps her student. Malawi, September 2016.

Teacher Maureen Kaunda helps her student. Malawi, September 2016.

CREDIT: GPE/Govati Nyirenda
Development objective: Improve the equity and quality of primary education service delivery with an emphasis on improved accountability and functioning at the school level.
Allocation: US$57,200,000
Years: 2022-2026
Grant agent: WB
Utilization: US$2,954,927

The GPE grant of US$48.7 million aims to improve the equity and quality of primary education service delivery with an emphasis on improved accountability and functioning at the school level. The program has the following components:

  1. Expand and reform primary school improvement grants
  2. Improve learning environments in lower primary schools, with a focus on constructing low-cost classrooms and hiring auxiliary teachers to address severely large class sizes
  3. Support girls’ learning, with a focus on raising the learning achievement of girls and improving the numbers of female teachers in schools in remote areas
  4. Support the national delivery of an updated and revised School Leadership Program.

Multiplier grant

The GPE Multiplier grant of US$8.5 million supports the Government's response to COVID-19. The fixed part allocation of US$5.5 million expands support to low-cost classroom construction and provides additional support to construction of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, responding to the urgent need to ease classroom congestion.

The variable part allocation of US$3 million is based on the equity, efficiency and learning outcomes strategies of the parent ESPIG, with US$ 1 million going to each of the three strategies:

  • Equity: Reduce the inequitable distribution of qualified teachers in lower primary grades by implementing a more fit for purpose rural areas allowance and re-allocation of qualified teachers across and within schools.
  • Efficiency: Resolve the issue of insufficient and irregular transfer of school improvement grants, which are the main source of funding non-staff school expenses critical for the implementation of the school improvement plans.
  • Learning outcomes: Address the lower learning outcomes of girls at all stages of primary school, with only 72% of the girls passing the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education compared to 82% of boys.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent  
COVID-19 2020-2022 10,000,000 9,967,279 UNICEF  
Program implementation and Multiplier 2022-2026 57,200,000 2,954,927 WB  
Program implementation 2016-2021 44,900,000 43,654,999 WB Progress report
2010-2015 90,000,000 90,000,000 WB Completion report
Sector plan development 2013-2015 250,000 0 WB  
Program development 2020-2021 313,400 313,234 WB  
2015-2016 313,569 313,569 WB  
  Total 202,976,969 147,204,008    
Data last updated: March 17, 2023

As part of its investment in civil society advocacy and social accountability efforts, GPE’s Education Out Loud fund is supporting:

  • The Civil Society Education Coalition for the 2019-2021 period. This builds on 11 years of Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) support to national education coalitions for their engagement in education sector policy dialogue.
  • Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development to mobilize an advocacy alliance across multiple partner countries, including Malawi, for the 2021-2023/24 period.

GPE had provided the Civil Society Education Coalition with a grant from the CSEF to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.

Last updated March 21, 2022