Education in Malawi

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Education in Malawi no longer stresses academic preparation leading to access to secondary school and universities, rather the stress is now on agriculture and practical training since few students go on to high school or university and most begin work immediately after primary school.

Primary Education[edit]

Primary school students at an outdoor meeting in Malawi

Primarily schools are mostly in two categories of assisted (public) and unassisted (private) schools. Villages and hamlets throughout the country have such schools. By 1970, there were approximately 2,000 primary schools for 35 percent of primary school aged youth. About 12 percent of all primary school students attended private, predominantly church run schools.

Secondary School Education[edit]

Secondary education developed late in Malawi, because of little effort or neglect in secondary education during the colonial era. Malawi has five types of secondary schools. These include aided boarding schools, aided day schools, government boarding-secondary schools, government day secondary schools, and private secondary schools. Most secondary teachers are qualified and hold either degrees or diplomas. In the curriculum, Agriculture is a compulsory subject for all students. Wood working, metal work, and technical drawing are encouraged for boys, and home economics is encouraged for girls. One of the biggest criticisms of secondary schools in Malawi is that they are too university-oriented and needs more technical skills taught. Most students immediately enter the workforce and need a different orientation. Therefore, Secondary schools do not produce as many graduates as the labor market demands. In fact, only one-fourth of Malawi's youth end up attending secondary school.[1]

Public School System[edit]

The government established free primary education for all children in 1994, which increased attendance rates, according to UNICEF.[2] In 1994, the gross primary enrollment rate was 133.9 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 102.6 percent.[2] In 1995, 62 percent of students entering primary school reached grade two, and 34 percent reached grade five.[2] The dropout rate is higher among girls than boys.[2]

Private School System[edit]

Private schools have risen in Malawi and offer an alternative to public schools. Private schools include school like Phungu, Lilongwe Girls, and Sunnyside School. Some consolidates private schools are run by the Designated Schools Board.

Private primary schools in Malawi[edit]

  • Kamuzu Academy
  • Saint Andrews Primary School
  • Zomba Private Primary School

Private high schools in Malawi[edit]

Charitable Foundation schools[edit]

Many independent schools have been set up as charitable foundations in Malawi with a specific targeted pupil.

Jacaranda School[edit]

The Jacaranda Foundation,[3] founded by nanny Marie Da Silva, maintains the Jacaranda School. It is Malawi's only entirely free school for primary and secondary students. The vast majority of students of the Jacaranda School are orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as featured on 2008 CNN Heroes.[4]

The Joyce Banda Foundation[edit]

The Joyce Banda Foundation is a foundation that runs schools for primary and secondary schools in Malawi.

Raising Malawi Academy for Girls[edit]

The Raising Malawi foundation is in the process of building a school aimed at female education in Malawi.

The Legson Kayira Primary School and Community Center[edit]

The Youth of Malawi foundation has built a solar-powered, rainwater-harvesting primary school in the village of Chimphamba, in the Mchinji district of rural Malawi.

University System[edit]

The University of Southern Malawi also known as the Malawi University of Science and Technology(MUST)[edit]

The Malawi University of Science and Technology was established on 17th December 2012 by the Malawi University of Science and Technology Act No. 31 of 2012 as the fourth Public University in Malawi. It was officially opened in the 2014 by Professor Peter Mutharika, LL.B(Hons), J.D.S. It's situated in the prestigious shire highlands in Thyolo, Malawi. This institution is occupying a total plot area of 215,000 m2 and has total building area of 46,000 m2. The seating capacity of this university is 3000 but can accommodate about twice that seating capacity. Evidently, this University will hugely contribute the government of Malawi efforts to widening access to higher education.

Once fully operational, the University will have the Malawi Institute of Technology, Ndata School of Climate & Earth Sciences, Academy of Medical Sciences and fourth School which is being further discussed. The Malawi Industrial Research and Technology Development Centre will be part of the MIT

University of Malawi[edit]

Malawi's first and largest tertiary educational institution is the University of Malawi. It was founded in 1964, and is separated into several campuses.

Mzuzu University[edit]

The university was founded in 1997 and is one of the principal universities of Malawi. The school is located in Mzuzu.

Catholic University of Malawi[edit]

The university is located in Montfort campus in Chiladzulu District in Malawi. It was established in 2004 and opened in 2006, with faculties of social science and education. It now additionally offers economics, Marketing, Business Administration and accounting.

University Education Quota System[edit]

The Education quota system was used under the Kamuzu Banda reign of one party rule and discontinued after multi-party democratic system of government on the basis that it was deemed discriminatory. Among the three administrative regions (north, central and south) in Malawi, students from northern region dominated in higher education during meritorious system of selecting students into Universities. Bingu wa Mutharika re-instituted a quota system for selection students into Universities, basically to promote equality to those getting access to university education. The policy attracted a lot of debate and criticism considering the fact that brighter student are left out for the sake of the policy. To balance up the policy, Professor Bingu's government directed to increase the number of student into the constituent colleges regardless of limited resources available. The effects of the policy were reflected in most of the colleges where many students were dismissed on academic grounds (poor performance). Bunda College of Agriculture dismissed 200 students in 2013 and similar figure were reported for Chancellor and polytechnic colleges, larger percentage of the dismissed students are the beneficiaries of the quota system. Dr Joyce Banda who took over government when Bingu passed on in 2012, announced in her inauguration speech to end quota system because it is discriminatory but after two years in power the system is still being used.

Teaching & Education Profession[edit]

The Ministry of Education develops the curricula used in Malawi's schools and oversee teacher training. Teachers take both pedagogical and academic courses. Supervised practical teaching is expected before teaching independently. Most teachers begin as primary school teachers in a demonstration school adjacent to teacher training facilities. Later, block teaching is tried during which the teacher trainee tries teaching a class on their own for six weeks. Three types of lecturers educate potential teachers. Graduate teacher educators chair most departments, aided by diplomate and nondiplomate assistants.

Primary Teachers[edit]

Malawi has two types of primary school teachers. The type 2 teacher holds a Malawi Certificate of Education (four years of high school), and a two-year Teachers Certificate. A type 3 teacher holds a Junior Certificate (two years of high school), and a two-year Teachers Certificate. Type 4 teachers have a primary education and a Teacher's Certificate [Type 4 teachers are either being upgraded to type 3 teachers or being phased out of teaching]. Type 1 is a promotional grade reserved for headmasters of school principals.

Secondary Teachers[edit]

Secondary school teachers are trained at the School of Education. This school awards three types of professional qualifications, which are: Diploma of Education, Bachelor of Education and the University Certificate of Education.

University Professors[edit]

Malawi citizens who serve as professors constitute 30 percent of the university's faculty. In 1977, a total of 87 of the 199 working faculty or 87 percent were expatriates. While 27 percent of the professoriat were from Malawi and a further 48 percent were pursuing advanced degrees abroad. There is a need both to upgrade or develop personnel currently serving as professors and to train many more Malawians to fill these posts.

Non-governmental organisations[edit]

DAPP Malawi[5] operates 4 teacher training colleges to meet the need for more primary school teachers in rural areas. Wungwero Book Foundation trains teacher librarians at the DAPP teacher training college.[6] AYISE, a large non-governmental organization based in Blantyre, Malawi, provides education at its youth center and works with local schools.[7]

The Brain Drain[edit]

Like all other professions, the teaching professionals have been impacted by the brain drain. Many Malawian educated professionals are working and living abroad due to higher pay and better working conditions.

Notable Malawian Educators[edit]

Notable Malawian Scholars[edit]


  1. ^ Furlong, Andy (2013). Youth Studies. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-415-56479-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Malawi". 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ YouTube TEDTalks video of William Kamkwamba

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