Friday, 30 October 2009

Education in Malawi

A short overview on education in Malawi.

Nursery education:

Nursery education is extremely limited in Malawi - the government is now trying to improve this and is investing in building pre-schools, certainly in the cities. There are, of course, private nurseries for those that value education and have the money to pay for it.

Primary education:

Primary education in Malawi is supposed to begin at 5 yrs old. Schools start at Standard 1 and go up to Standard 8, which is the final year of primary. Pupils do not proceed to the next year group automatically, but when they pass the end of year exams. This results in some older children remaining at very early primary school grades for a number of years, and leaving primary education (Standard 8) almost adults. Primary education is free but not compulsory, but there is an enormous shortage of teachers (the standard of whom can be very low with outdated practices) due to a shortage of teacher training schools and facilities. Schools have little or no equipment, teachers are quite poorly paid and the facilities are basic with those lucky to have a classroom often sitting on the floor.

Secondary education:

It is extremely competitive to get into a state run secondary school. Private schools are available, with entrance exams, but many people are unable to afford these. In fact, people often find it hard to pay the nominal fees for state secondary education. It is often very academic, leading to MSCE (Malawi School Certificate in Education) which is equivalent to GSCEs in the United Kingdom. There is little vocational training to assist secondary school leavers with jobs post school - and doesn't allow for the spread of learning styles or encourage the pupils to think, rather deliver lessons verbatim.

Unemployment is high, and there are many jobseekers with MSCE qualifications, which doesn't encourage school pupils to enter secondary education.

Elite secondary schools:

There are a handful elite international private schools in Malawi available for rich Malawian and ex-pat pupils. Here they can take United Kingdom A-Levels and other international qualifications that make them eligible to continue their education around the world.

University education:

Tertiary education in Malawi is extremely limited, with a number of small universities in some of the major cities. To enter university, a malawian has to get certain grades, and pass an entrance exam to study. There are a wide range of subjects to study at university, but you may not get your first choice (as you have to put a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of subjects).

Job prospects after leaving university are much better, but there are still a dearth jobs for the graduiates to apply for.

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