The National Planning Commission (NPC) says Malawi has made significant strides in educational attainment since independence, but the current state of education and skills development in the country has a lot of room for improvement.
NPC Director General, Dr Thomas Chataghalala Munthali said this in Lilongwe at LUANAR during the Launch of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 25 — Road to Nairobi, a high-level conference that advances the implementation of ICPD Programme of Action scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 12-14 November, 2019.
NPC is a body mandated to identify Malawi’s socio-economic development priorities and formulate national vision and strategy for social and economic goals.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ground breaking International Conference on Population and Development, which took place in Cairo in 1994. During the conference, leaders articulate bold vision regarding the relationships between population, development and individual well-being.
Dr. Munthali who is a renowned economist said although participation of education has steadily increased at all levels, the quality of education received is not at the expected levels compared to other countries.
“The problem of low quality of education is a major challenge for Malawi to address even as it improves school participation rates. The primary school participation rates might be high due to the free primary education policy, but the policy came with a load of challenges that have undermined the quality of education.
“The large number of children in school has not been matched by the needed investments to accommodate them, including adequate resources for infrastructure and learning materials and adequate staffing of trained teachers,” said Dr Munthali.
He said education statistics show that in 2014 there were overwhelming 896,110 repeaters and 186,285 dropouts at primary school level, while there were 16,744 repeaters and 17,608 dropouts at secondary school level.
“These numbers partly reflect the education quality that leads to inefficiency through unnecessary repetitions and to school drop-outs. Furthermore, primary school completion rate was only 52 percent and the transition rate from primary to secondary school was only 36 percent,” said Dr. Munthali.
He said in addition to unsatisfactory education quality, a related issue is the inadequate skills being learned by students to prepare them for the job-market saying this has led to the mismatch of skills and qualifications adding that analysis carried out on young workers in Malawi found out that majority are under-educated for the work they do, implying that the level of qualification or education is lower than what is required to perform the job adequately.
The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, will offer an inclusive platform, bringing together governments, UN agencies, civil society, private sector organizations, women’s groups and youth networks to discuss and agree on actions to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Program of Action, which is critical to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.