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Malawi schools offer different subjects under both the local and international curriculum. Categorically Malawi schools fall under two groups, public schools and private schools. Public schools in Malawi offer primary and secondary education but there are no public pre-schools. Pre-schools in the country are run by private individuals and non-governmental organizations.
Public education begins with primary education which is free for everyone in the country. Basic primary education is prepares students for secondary school. It takes eight years to complete primary school a student, starting from standard one to standard eight.
During end of term students in primary schools sit for exams administered by teachers at the school. But when they reach grade eight students sit for national examinations. The Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) is the body responsible for administering and certification of grade eight national examinations.
MANEB results for grade eight students are used for selection of students to go to secondary schools across the country. Students who pass with best grades are selected to national boarding schools. Students who pass with lower overall grades are selected to community day secondary schools.
Teaching jobs in Malawi Schools
The teaching service commission is responsible for employing teachers in Malawi. Primary school teachers have a minimum of a two-year training certificate (T2 certificate) from teacher training colleges. Majority of teachers in primary schools went to public teacher training colleges which were until recently tuition free. Some teachers go through private teacher training colleges which are available in the country.
Malawi schools especially public primary schools have higher teacher student ratio compared to the required standard. In some schools teacher student ratio is 120:1 which negatively affects quality of education in the country. As a result of this high ratio teachers fail to effectively asses perfomance of students in the classrooms.
Secondary Schools in Malawi
Secondary schools in Malawi prepare students with basic survival skills as well as for tertiary education. In most Malawi schools students are required to take a minimum of eight subjects. It takes four years to complete secondary education in Malawi.
The Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB) awards students who have successfully completed the secondary school curriculum students with Malawi School Certificates of Education (MSCE). MSCE holders can use their certificates to apply to universities and colleges or apply for jobs. In both public and private schools students are required to pay tuition fees.
Qualified teachers in secondary schools in Malawi have college diplomas and degrees. The number of qualified teachers in conventional secondary schools is relatively higher than in community day secondary schools (CDSS). Furthermore, learning conditions in most CDSS is much worse than in conventional schools. As a result students in CDSSs perform poorly in national examinations.
International schools in Malawi offer British and other foreign curriculum studies.
Malawi education problems
Malawi education problems that exists in primary and secondary schools includes in adequate amount of teachers, lack of proper learning infrastructures, and limited teaching and learning resources. The other factors that affect education in Malawi are cultural beliefs and poverty.
Since government introduced free primary education in 1994 there has been an increase in pupil enrollment in public primary schools. As a result the increased enrollment has caused increased pressure on the limited available resources. It is sad to note that in some schools in Malawi pupils learn under trees because there are in adequate classrooms.
In adequate primary and secondary school teachers
The number of teachers is lower than the total amount of teachers required in primary as well as secondary schools in Malawi. Hence, the inadequacy of teachers results in high teacher student ratio. Consequently, it lowers quality of education. Despite that there are many qualified teachers from teacher training colleges and universities the government says it does not have the capacity to employ them all. As such the few teachers available have work overload which comprises quality of lesson delivery in the classroom.
While primary education is free in Malawi, some people fail to provide basic needs for school going children. Parents sometimes fail to buy schools uniforms and school stationery like exercise books, pens, and pencils which forces their pupils to drop out of school. The worst of all is learning that some students go to school hungry. Many pupils drop out of school due to the facts that they come from families where parents cannot afford to provide food. As you can guess learning on an empty stomach is a nightmare which few people can withstand. In secondary school where students are required to pay fees others who fail to pay tuition are expelled.
In a way to solve this challenge of drop out due to lack of school fees government and other non –governmental organizations give bursaries to poor students. The luck few stay in school but life is hard for the less fortunate who get expelled from school. As an end result there is a wide gap in access to quality education in Malawi between the poor and the rich. Students from well to do families have higher chances of completing secondary education that those from poor families.
Cultural beliefs and education in Malawi schools
Cultural beliefs affect the way people live as well as how they learn new things. In some parts in Malawi,people consider education as a “boy thing”. Some parents think that it is better to educate the boy child than the girl child.
As a result girls are given limited educational support as compared to boys. This kind of thinking is dominant among people who believe that the best investment parents can make for the girl child is to prepare her for marriage. As such they are expected to stay at home to learn domestic chores so that they make better wives while they allow boys to go to school.
Some parents also think that investing in a girl child education is a loss. They say that since when a girl get married they will not enjoy her wealth instead the husband and his relative will. As such people with such beliefs prefer giving more support for the education of the boys than for girls.