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I Part Descriptive Section


The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and the World Bank, organised a World Conference on Education For All from 4th to 9th March 1990. The conference was convened in the city of Jomtien in Thailand. This world conference ended up setting broad global guidelines, goals and targets for the expansion and improvement of Basic Education to cover all people; children, the youth and adults without any form of discrimination. The target period was the decade 1990 to the year 2000. All the countries that participated in this conference committed themselves to striving towards fulfilling these goals and targets in line with their own various education conditions as well as the specific political, social, economic and cultural contexts. This declaration of the goals and targets of Basic Education has become commonly known as the Jomtien World Declaration on Education For All (EFA).

The World Declaration on Education for All (EFA) singled out the following to be the prioritised basic learning needs; literacy, oral expression, numeracy and the ability to solve problems. These basic learning needs were to go along with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes, which would enable the target group to live and work with dignity as fully empowered human beings.

The aims of the Jomtien Declaration were further elaborated by the Frame- Work for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs which identified six target areas for action. Countries were to follow the same order of targets in their endeavour to implement the EFA commitment. The following is the list of the six target areas:

  1. expanding Early Childhood Care,
  2. universalising access to and completion of primary education,
  3. improving learning achievements,
  4. reducing adult illiteracy and the male-female literacy gap
  5. expanding basic education and training for youth and adults, and
  6. Increasing acquisition by individuals and families of knowledge, skills and values for better living.


After the Jomtien Conference, an International Consultative Forum on Education for All was set up to promote and monitor progress towards EFA goals through the 1990s. Through the early part of the decade, it has provided international opportunities to examine the prospects for achieving the goals of the Declaration. In pursuit of the Declaration's goals, the Framework for action to meet basic needs suggested initial steps for implementation at national level and these steps were:

  1. Assessing national conditions
  2. Establishing priorities for action
  3. Designing policies for action
  4. Mobilising resources
  5. Building partnerships
  6. Harnessing technology in support of basic education
  7. Setting up channels of communication and public information
  8. Improving analysis of educational information and
  9. Managing education resources and systems better

But as is true with many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, efforts to Universalise. Basic Education have been part of Malawi's education goals since the mid 1980's. The ten-year National Development plan in Education for the period 1985 to 1995 clearly identified the move to expand Basic Education as one of the top priorities. The Jomtien Frame Work for Action to meet basic learning needs, therefore, just strengthened and widened the scope of this already existing national plan.

Methodology of the assessment

In order to achieve the above objectives the review process has put to use four strategies. These strategies are:

  1. Literature reviews;
  2. Face-to face interviews;
  3. Surveys; and
  4. Regional and /or sub-regional workshops
  5. Statistical Analysis and Policy reviews

Literature Review

A great deal of literature in form of Special Studies, project reports, policy documents, Statistical data from Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), Curriculum Reviews etc. has been studied and utilised. However, in areas like Early Childhood Care and Development Activities (ECCDA), Youth Out of School and Essential Skills for Better Living, relevant literature has been either scanty or non-existent.

Face-to-face Interviews

Where found necessary, face to face interviews with people were organised. This strategy was rarely used. It was only used when the field had no reliable data in any form and. Sometimes this has been the last resort in a situation where the other strategies could not be used because of time factor.

Special Surveys

The EFA funding organisations assisted countries to conduct surveys to scientifically establish the gains and losses and to inform the main policy options. In Malawi such surveys have included conditions of Teaching and Learning in the Primary School Sector (CTL), Monitoring Learning Achievements, Southern African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality and project reviews (SACMEQ).


Assisted by the EFA funding organizations, national, regional and sub-regional workshops were organised. At these workshops, the EFA funding organisations and stakeholders in Basic Education from various countries shared notes. Among the most outstanding of these conferences were the Kampala-Uganda regional conference in 1993, the Johannesburg-All-Africa EFA Mid-Term Review workshop and the global EFA mid-term review in Amman, Jordan, both held in 1996OBJECTIVES OF THE ASSESSMENT

The Education For All 2000 Assessment aims to shade light on how Malawi has strove to meet the goals of the 1990 Jomtien Declaration on Education for All vis-à-vis Malawi’s own set goals. The assessment also provides Malawi with an opportunity to assess its stand in the context of the unique experiences of the South and East African sub-region over the 1990 - 2000 decade. Broadly the objectives of the assessment are:

  1. To establish the extent to which Malawi has expanded provision of Basic Education in the decade.
  2. To identify the actual gains Malawi has made in the field of Basic Education in the decade.
  3. To establish the factors behind the gains in Basic Education.
  4. To identify the target areas where there has been slow progress or no progress at all.
  5. To establish the factors behind lack of or slow progress in the concerned target areas.
  6. To examine the viability of the national implementation strategies followed to facilitate Education for All.
  7. To suggest cost-effective policy reforms that would enhance Malawi’s Universalitation of Basic Education.
  8. To isolate Malawi's priorities in Basic Education in the new millennium.
  9. To suggest ways of identifying the resources needed for realising Basic Education Priorities in the new Millennium.

The Kampala Conference

At this conference Anglo-African countries presented country-reports on EFA situation, three years after the Jomtien World Conference in Education For All.

Malawi presentation featured the following: actions initiated after the Jomtien Declaration, factors that adversely affected follow-up action to EFA, the role of International Aid Agencies, achievements and future challenges.

From this report it is clear that economic hardships, political instability poverty and high levels of illiteracy hampered any tangible progress in EFA (GOM-EFA, "Three Years After Jomtien", 1993). Only five International aid agencies contributed towards EFA in Malawi through advocacy, catalytic and funding roles resulting in humble achievements but enormous challenges. The five International Aid Agencies were the German Agency for Technical Co-operation (GTZ), UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank and UNDP.

The achievements Malawi tabled 1993 were the following:

  1. The formation of a comprehensive EFA plan of operation;
  2. Fifth Country Programme on the integration of Social Services at Community level. This had to do with a first Study on integrating pre-school, primary school out-of-school and adult literacy programmes in six districts;
  3. The Malawi Special Teacher Education Programme; this was a four year distance residential training course for 4,500 para-professional teachers.
  4. Girls Attainment in Basic Literacy Education (GABLE); This was a programme designed to encourage girls to participate and persist in basic education.
  5. Phasing out of tuition fees for grades 1-4 whilst allowing other forms user fees.
  6. The National Adult Literacy Programme (NALP);

Despite the above gains the following still posed a challenge towards realising the EFA goals:

  1. Inadequate teaching/learning materials;
  2. Shortage of teachers and classrooms as a consequence of phasing out of tuition fees and rise in enrolment;
  3. Government budgetary constraints due to donor freezing of aid; in protest of Malawi Human Rights record.
  4. Political uncertainty vis-à-vis transition from one party rule to pluralism;
  5. High level of poverty and Illiteracy.

The Johannesburg EFA Mid-Decade Review: February 1996

This Mid-decade EFA review was convened for the East and Southern Africa Region. Its main aim was preparation for the global Mid-decade review Conference, which was to be held later in Amman, Jordan.

Malawi EFA situation report presented at the mid-decade review earned her a title of a country that is "battling to provide". This was a situation of a country that was striving to sustain current enrolments, retain children in school to boost quality of provision, and raise literacy rates. The report, indicated that as a result of democratisation in May, 1994, and due to the effecting of Free Primary Education on 1st September, the same year, the Primary school population rose from 1.9 Million to 3.2 Million, a 68% increase. Net Enrolment rose from 59% to 76%, Gross Enrolment for girls from 60% to 72%, and for both boys and girls to 98%. With 200 students for every classroom, a shortfall of 38,000 classrooms was estimated. Few students had books, few teachers had syllabi; but all children had notebooks and pencils.

The report went further to express that Malawi had come a long way. Using the 1993 Government Situation Analysis of Poverty, the report showed that in 1993 Primary school Net enrolment rate for males was 53% while that of females was 51%. Dropout rate was 50% of cohort before permanent literacy and 20% of standard completing primary cycle 8 years.

On quality issues, the report put primary school pupil-teacher ratio in 1993 at 70:1 and pupil-classroom ratio of 87:1. Only 15% of the pupils had access to chairs and desks.

Adult literacy rate was put at 39% for males and 29% for females with Government of Malawi (GOM) allocating 34% of Social Welfare budget to adult literacy (MDROPTEFA-ESA-1996).

The report further purports that following the Jomtien World Declaration on Education For All, the Government of Malawi (GOM) implemented a five-year National Programme of Action. The plan outlined basic learning needs for the period 1991-95. In the context of the plan, government constructed classrooms, provided tuition, bursaries, offered fee-waivers for girls, upgraded unqualified teachers, reformed the primary curriculum and syllabi, and produced new teachers guides and texts. The first seven years of the National Adult Literacy Programme were evaluated, and the National Youth Policy was launched. Community-based Childcare Pilot Programs enrolled about 100,000 children, and a policy on early Childhood Care and Development was formulated.

With the advent of Free Primary Education in 1994, the system was thrown into turmoil, but the Ministry of Education and Culture formulated policies and plans designed to manoeuvre the system into viability. The MOEC produced an Education Sector Policy and Investment (1995-2005) Framework for all education sub-sectors, with primary education receiving top priority.

The report further states that by 1996, Education’s share of Government’s budget had risen from 15% to 23.4%, out of which the primary sub-sector had been awarded 57%. Twenty two thousand par-professional teachers had been recruited to keep the pupil-teacher ratio at 60:1. Teacher training programs were being radically redesigned combining distance education, self-study, and school-based INSET, to keep up with the system’s requirement for qualified teachers. Support for this came from the International Community. Inspection and supervision practice was being reviewed, and management capacity upgraded. A Supplies Unit had been set up to ensure fast delivery of instructional materials, with private sector assistance in distribution to schools.

The Malawi country situation EFA Mid term Review report ended with appreciation for the positive community response. Some urban interest groups formed a voluntary organisation called Malawi Education For All (MEFA) whose main objective was to raise funds and encourage children to attend school.

Local Communities responded by moulding 80 million bricks for 1600 classrooms and 1000 teachers’ houses. The local communities had, by the time the report was being prepared, already built 700 classrooms, which were awaiting Government-supplied roofing. In 1994/5 year the local communities opened 790 Community schools 90% of which operated in churches, mosques, disused shops and tobacco barns, and under trees.

The report said the challenge of the future would be how to sustain current levels of commitment in Government and among teachers, children, and their families and communities to education for all. The report then expressed hope for the future for Malawi, despite the seemingly grim statistics in 1996.

According to the report on the Mid-Decade Review of Progress Towards Education For All in East and Southern African (MDROPTEFA-ESA-1996), The South African review set the general background, tone and pace of EFA assessment for the African countries. The review recognised that education conditions in Africa vary with the complexity and diversity of the region. Thus, the interventions intended to address education reform and revitalisation need to be adjusted from one context to another. Educators were, therefore, urged to recognise three Africas not identified in terms of an inherited metropolitan language, but more usefully, by their net primary enrolment ratios (NER) and other indicators of school provision. These three Africas were:

  1. Countries with relatively high school enrolments, where repetition and drop-outs are the main course of less than 100% NER;
  2. Countries with enrolment ratios approximating 50-70% some of which were experiencing recent decline in enrolments, or the sudden challenge of sustaining higher enrolments; and
  3. Countries with relatively low school enrolments and those that were emerging from situation of conflict or gross economic destabilisation

Malawi was ranked in-group two together with Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Sao Tome, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.Using these three groups as the basis for review, the South and East African countries were urged to take stock of their conditions and achievements in the five years since the Jomtien Declaration by:

  1. Considering the relevance of the Jomtien Declaration in the light of difficulties of expanding and improving basic education;
  2. Identifying the obstacles to achieving national objectives in both formal and non-formal educational training;
  3. Identifying initiatives that proved promising; and
  4. Reviewing new developments and prospects opening up for basic education in Africa.

In the background of these four aspects, the Johannesburg review ended up centering on three "over arching themes" namely: girls education, costs and financing, and education in emergencies and for reconstruction. The Johannesburg review also emphasized the difficulty as of 1996, for the Southern and East African countries to come up with reasonable accurate education profile for the region. The major reason cited for this failure was the absence of comprehensive official statistics for Africa after 1992.

"It is impossible as of February 1996, to determine with any degree of precession where the region was when EFA took off. Where it is in 1996, and what changes are taking place, and to project what Africa is likely to achieve by the year 2000."

However, it is should be noted that the 1996 Johannesburg review highlighted the fact that provision of quality and relevant basic education has been a constant theme in post-colonial Africa way before the Jomtien Declaration:

In Addis Ababa (1961), Abidjan (1964), Nairobi (1968), Lagos (1976) and Harare (1983), Africa affirmed its intention to launch new initiatives on behalf Education for All. Infact, gross enrolment ratios in Primary schools rose drastically, from 42% in 1960 to 79% in 1980. If this rate of increase had been sustained, the goal of primary education for all would have been reached by the year 2000.

The Johannesburg review then accepted major failures in the EFA Mission in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCDA). It was recognized that arguments in favour of ECCDA were largely accepted but with controversy surrounding what the state's contribution and priorities in budget allocations should be. Similarly, it was established that in Adult Literacy and Nonformal Education the programs have derived very little benefit from government priorities established after Jomtiem. As for opportunities for girls and women, it was established that the difference between male and female illiteracy was 20.6 per cent. This demonstrated that sub Saharan Africa’s' women were among the World's most disadvantaged and did not enjoy the special and sustained attention given to girls. It was also noted that few initiatives on women’s behalf were being reported. The Johannesburg EFA mid-term review, therefore, acknowledged the challenges Sub-Saharan Africa faced in achieving Education For All:

The struggle toward EFA goals in Africa has not been easy, and will not be any easier in future. The story of EFA in the region is one of setbacks, disappointments and continuing disparities. But the persistence and inventiveness inspired by African solutions, developed in cooperation between nations and communities, has perhaps brought to the continent a confidence which will encourage it to rely on its own strengths, and not as in the past on external initiatives (MDROPTEFA – 1996)

The Amman Mid-Decade Review June 1996

The Amman (Jordan) Mid-decade Meeting of the International Consultative Forum on Education For All in June, 1996 summed up all the global review reports vis-a-vis the 1990 Jomtein Declaration on Education For All and then established that:

  1. Progress towards the Jomtien goals had been very much delayed.
  2. Central priority of the Jomtien Declaration on Education for All – girls education – had been overshadowed by the move to universalize primary education by the year 2000.
  3. Integrated vision of basic education had also been overshadowed by the universalisation of primary education by the year 2000.
  4. Quality of basic education was declining (UNESCO-The State of the World’s Children, 1999).

It is after the Amman forum on Education for All that the five EFA convener organizations; UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and the World Bank, took it a priority to assist countries in a special way to enable them recover the lost gains of 1990 to 1995. This then is the philosophy behind the various Education for All enabling projects and programs that have been funded; regional and sub-regional Workshops and training for capacity building that have been conducted and surveys and special studies that have been done. All have been organised to facilitate the evaluation of the progress realized. In other words the intention of these EFA financiers and the wish of benefiting countries is to come up with a summative assessment of the overall gains and persistent challenges in EFA as we close the decade and the century. Education Planners, Policy makers, Education managers and policy implementors will be interested to know where we have triumphed and where we have fumbled in order to enter the new millennium with new hope, vision and vigor.


This chapter aims at setting the context of the assessment .It is briefly outlining the social, political, economic and cultural background of Malawi thereby giving a clear picture of the environment in which the various basic education policies to be discussed emerged and unfolded.


(a) Malawi - One Party State

Malawi became independent from the British in 1964. From 1964 to June 1993, Malawi was governed principally by one-party democracy under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) with Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda as Life President The MCP and its leadership attained dictatorial tendencies at the peak of its leadership. Human Rights were abused, the state management of public and donor funds lacked transparency, only one vernacular language, Chichewa, was used as both medium of instruction in Junior primary school and as a special subject throughout the whole School System. Similarly, Chichewa was the only vernacular language used on the only national radio in a country which had/have five other major vernacular languages. Strong Censorship laws obstructed the teaching and publication of certain vital issues in the areas of Democracy, Human Rights, Gender; and HIV/AIDS, while the dress-code confined women to the traditional attire of long dress covering the knees, no pair of trousers or min-skirt were allowed.

(b) Malawi Multi-Party State

The people of Malawi voted overwhelmingly for a change of system of Government from one party democracy to multi-party democracy in a national referendum conducted on 4th June, 1993. A year later, on 17th May, 1994, the advocates of multipartyism, led by Dr. Bakili Muluzi of the UDF party, won the first Multiparty Parliamentary and general elections. Dr. Bakili Muluzi became the first president of a pluralist Malawi with his United Democratic Front Party holding the majority of seats in the National Assembly.

Dr. Bakili’s Strongest Support came from the Southern region. Dr. Hastings Banda’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) won most of the seats in the Central Region and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), led by Chakufwa Chihana, won all the seats in the Northern Region. Free Primary Education as a tool for Poverty Alleviation constituted the backbone of U.D.F’s campaign manifesto.

Once the United Democratic Front was ushered into Government in May 1994, its first task was to put in order the Human Rights abuses by abolishing all legal Acts which infringed on the rights of individuals. The Jomtien Declaration on the right of all individuals to basic education became a reality through the introduction of free primary school education for all the eight standards and to all school going age children. School uniform, which was identified as a major deterrent factor to access to basic education, was abolished. Regulations to safeguard transparency in the management of public funds were put in place. Freedom of expression became the landmark of the streets, the mass and Media and even the classrooms. The mother tongue of the catchment area of a school became the medium of instruction in the first four standards (grades) of primary school. Additional vernacular languages were added in phases on the national radio to cater for other demographically major tribes in the country starting with Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena and then Tonga.

Schools, the print and electronic Media, political parties the Church and individuals, old and young became free to discuss positively critical issues pertaining to democracy, human rights, sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Diseases/HIV/AIDS, Abortion and Child Spacing. The oppressive dress code was repealed in parliament.

Five years later, on 17th May, 1999, patterns of voting similar to those of 1994, brought Dr. Bakili Muluzi back into Government with fresh commitment to Free primary Education and Poverty Alleviation. This has given Malawi yet another five years of an environment of political willingness to facilitate Education for All. And, indeed, Free Primary Education component of EFA, is the most, a significant indisputable success story of the Malawi Second Republic – the Multi-party republic of 1994-1999.


Since independence in 1964 Malawi has experienced some remarkable population growth with the population figures more than doubling between 1964 and 1998 (Gender and Primary School in Malawi: GAPSIM- Draft Report 1999).

A Demographic Health Survey conducted in 1992 (DHS, 1992) estimated Malawi’s Maternal Mortality rate at 620 deaths per 100,000 live births. The current estimate for maternal mortality is at 560 per 100,000 live births while infant mortality rate before first birthday stands at 135 per 1000 live births (UNDP 1999). DHS, 1992 further indicated that 240 children out of 1000 died before reaching their fifth birthday. Currently, under five mortality rate is estimated to be at 215 per 1000 live births (UNDP 1999). It has been noted further that children of uneducated women are twice as likely to die in the first five years of life than are children of women with primary education (GOM-EPE,PAS, 1998).

According to USAID, 1995, HIV/Aids is a major threat to the overall population in Malawi. The rate of infection is between 12 and 14 per cent in the rural areas. In the urban areas the estimates were as high as 24 per cent among the adult population, this was among the highest in the world. In 1993, it was estimated that 140,000 children had lost their mothers due to AIDS. This was expected to increase to 300,000by the year 2000. In 1994, a UNICEF report indicated that about 30 per cent of households were headed by women. All these show that the effect of HIV/AIDS on Malawi’s education system is enormous. A 1999 Aids situation brief to the State President shows that in 1998 25.3% of the population was HIV positive while in the rural area 11.2% was positive. The most highly vulnerable group of antenatal women, the age-group 25 –29 showed 28.2% infection with 20 34 age group infection pegged at between 21.8 to 28.2%. .A critical look at the composition of the 1998 population, yields among other things, the following:

1. that women constitute about 51% of the total population.

2. that the population is unevenly distributed between the three regions of the country with 47% residing in the Southern region, 41% in the Central and 13% in the North.

    1. That the population is predominantly rural with nearly 86% of the population residing in rural areas.

4. Half the population is under the age of 17, Malawi has a young population, for example about 1 in 6 persons was under five years of age in 1998 (NSO, 1998).

    1. The population dependency ratio is, therefore, very high and increasing, approximately half the population is under the age of 17, and This tarries with the UNDP 1999 report which states that in 1997 there were about 99.7 dependants per every100 adults (UNDP 1999).

The 1991-95 Education Plan indicates that prior to 1990, there was no School Health and Nutrition Programme and Poverty was a big problem in Malawian Primary Schools. Nine out of ten children had no shoes, latrines in schools were inadequate, there were no facilities for washing hands in many schools, and there was insufficient supply of safe water and no facilities for detecting, treating and controlling the spread of diseases in schools. According to Malawi Social Indicators Survey of 1995, food insecurity was rampant with malnutrition affecting 70 percent of the rural households. Thirty per-cent of these rural households had no sanitation facilities while in the urban area, only 20 percent of the households had access to latrine. This state of affairs resulted in 48 percent of the children.


(a) Colonial Period

This section examines the formal education systems in Malawi and outlines how the current structures evolved and their role in constraining or facilitating the provision of Education for All. Formal Basic Education as defined in the Western sense was introduced in Malawi in 1875 by Missionaries belonging to the Free Church of Scotland. These were followed by other missionaries such as the Dutch Reformed (DRC) Church from South Africa, the Universities Mission to Central Africa, the (UMCA),and the Roman Catholic Church just to mention but a few. The main aim of these churches was basically to spread the word of God, as such activities such as education were auxiliary. It followed, therefore, that their curriculum was very elementary, aiming only at what were called the 3Rs: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. What the Missionaries wanted to produce were Africans just literate enough to assist in evangelism process. Since evangelism at that time was a man’s monopoly, the education provided was biased against women. Parents and girls found no substantive incentive for enrolling in schools.

The different Missionaries that were influential in education had their own curricula which depended on their creed and ideals towards education. Thus there were diversified education standards with no one taking responsibility to coordinate. With financing also done by respective Missionaries, resource availability was also quite varied among and within schools. This diversified the standards even further..

Government participation in Education started in 1908 with provision of small grants for the education of the Africans (Draft Report on Gender and Primary Schooling in Malawi (GAPSIM, 1998). It was extended to the creation of the Department of Education in the colonial office in 1926, as a response to the commendations given by the Phelps Stokes Commission of 1924 (Lamba 1982). The office assumed the responsibility of controlling and coordinating education although its control remained minimal, proportional to the size of subsidy Government actually paid towards education (One tenth of total expenditure as of 1927).

According to GAPSM 1999 the turning point in the primary sector during the colonial period was in 1940. In this year the Department of Education agreed to establish secondary education. The Need to establish a criteria for selecting pupils to go to secondary schools after completing primary schooling led to the start of a centrally organised examination system and start of more Government control in the education system. The selection aspect attached to these examinations formed the genesis of the almost incurable syndrome of our education system to date: rote teaching of pupils to pass examinations. It is also at the same time that the curriculum transformed form being religious and practical/survival skill oriented to one that was more academic. New subject were introduced to make the Primary education curriculum more relevant and consonant with secondary education objectives of producing a cadre of clerical and evangelical staff to serve the civil service and the church respectively.

Between 1940 and the early 60s when Malawi became independent, a number of other attempts to improve education in the country were made but they yielded minimal impact if any. By the time Malawi became independent, 1964, more schools both at primary and secondary levels had been built but they were still inadequate and access to these then was limited. Distance to schools remained too long and vacancies for individuals coming from one level to another remained scarce (GAPSIM, 1999).

(b) Post Colonial Period

Upon independence it became imperative that education should be significantly overhauled to make it take African shape and address the African needs. The theory of pan Africanism prevalent at the time necessitated the training of more Malawian.professionals and officers. To facilitate this, the education system and or infrastructure had to be expanded. Government opted for the expansion at the expense of quality, to satisfy the excess demand for education that existed then. Government also took over provision of education especially in the areas of policy and political Governance. The aims of education were revised and broadened to raise the status of education to that of a vital tool for development.

The primary school sector still suffered lack of proportional expansion because Government priority was on higher education. Higher education at this point in time would give the Government the much-needed middle and high level managers to manage civil service. Major curriculum changes were launched which resulted in the introduction of new subjects such as Civics and Agriculture and the revisiting of the contents of other subjects.

Enrolment at the primary sector during this period was not very impressive given that attention was more on Secondary schools. Primary schools education continued to be the domain of local authorities and the Missionaries.

The expansion of the education system necessitated the need for planning which hitherto had been absent. This led to the design of the first educational plan that covered the period 1973 to 1980. In case of Primary Education the plan aimed at raising the GER from 33% to 50% during the plan period.

In the Second Education Plan 1985 to 1995, all sectors of formal education were covered, and Primary School Education was given more prominence. However, economic-development was still the catch word of the day and so ideals of Universal Primary Education continued to be overshadowed.

Currently another Plan, the Policy Investment Framework is being tailored with new hopes and visions for the new millennium. In this new plan contemporary issues like gender in the provision of education and costing of priority education programmes using Medium Term Expenditure Frame Work are included..

From this overview it is clear that the history of education in the country has direct bearing on access, equity, quality, financing and provision of resources in basic education. The history also shows that while there has been enrolment increases overtime, the means to the increase have perpetuated gender inequalities, rural urban disparities and lowering of quality. An important thing to note, however, is the absence of issues to do with Early Childhood Education and adult literacy in this whole history of education in Malawi. The reason is simple. Early Childhood Education, Adult Literacy and Education for the youth out of school are recent developments in the history of education in the country. As they emerged situations necessitated that they be handled by other Ministries other than the main-stream Ministry .of Education.


(a) Introduction

The structure of formal education system in Malawi follows an 8-4-4 pattern comprising three levels. These levels are Primary, Secondary and tertiary. At each level the Ministry of Education is the main provider but is assisted by line ministries as described below. The system is dominated by public examinations, which are largely used to select pupils to proceed to the next level of education.

(b) Basic Education

Primary education lasts eight years and is divided into three sections; infant section comprising standards 1 and 2, junior section – comprising standards 3,4 and 5 and Senior section, composing Standards 6,7 and 8.

The official age of entry into Primary School is six years. However, late entry is very common especially in rural areas. Access to primary education is open though not compulsory. There are currently two types of Primary Schools; Government assisted (public) and private. In 1997 School year there were 3,730 public primary schools. The exact number of private schools is not known, as MOE still has no strong policy to ensure registration of these schools before they are opened. However, the number of private schools has suddenly increased in recent years as the demanded for private education has increased, particularly in urban areas.

The Growth in Private Primary Schools can largely be attributed to an increase in demand for private schooling due to the worsening quality of education provided in urban public schools characterised by extreme overcrowding and poor learning.

Private schools charge user fees, which in most cares are very high and thus cater for mainly the urban elite. They are under no obligation to follow the structure set up by Government. Infact some of the schools follow the English School System and Curriculum.

(c) Secondary Education

At the end of primary education in standard 8, pupils sit for the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination (PSLCE) which is used to select pupils for secondary education. Only 15% of the Primary School Leavers have access to Secondary School education.

Until 1998, secondary education in Malawi was offered through conventional secondary schools and Distance Education Centers (DECs). In 1999 a new policy directive converted all DECs into Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs), creating a unified system of secondary education. As a result of this new policy initiative, the Government has now assumed more responsibility over the COSSs than before. This has consequently put considerable financial pressure on the Government.

Under the new unified system, there are six types of Secondary Schools namely:

    1. Government day and boarding schools- there are operated and funded directly by Government through treasury via Education Division offices.
    2. Grant aided schools-these are operated by church organisations with Government contribution of monthly grants to their day to day running costs and teachers salaries. Tuition and boarding fees cumulatively become much higher than the Government Schools.

(iii) Community day Secondary Schools (CDSS)-These are mostly initiated and financed by the school committees but receive some Government funding to cater for day to day running costs and teacher and support staff salaries.

(iv) Private Schools-these are schools owned by private individuals or non-governmental organisations which get no grant at all from Government and they charge economic fees.

(v) Designated Schools – these are mostly for expatriates and are given nominal Government grants.

    1. Distance Education for home students- This mainly caters for employees and house-wives interested in improving their academic qualifications and the youth who fail to secure a place into all the other secondary institutions for one reason or the other. According to 1997 Secondary School Census there are 624 Secondary education institutions in Malawi. This figure represents both Government and private institutions at least those registered.
    2. Night Secondary Schools: described the growth of night schools vis-à-vis closure of DECs state that the last two provide an opportunity for adult and continuing education.

The Secondary education in Malawi lasts four years and includes two cycles each lasting two years. The Junior cycle comprises Form 1 and 2. At the end of this cycle students sit for a Junior Certificate Examination (J.C.E). The senior cycle comprises Forms 3 and 4. At the end of the cycle (Form 4) students sit for the Malawi School Certificate Examination (MSCE) All the examinations are prepared, administered and processed by the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) contracting teachers for some of the activities.

(d) Tertiary Education

Tertiary education in Malawi embraces primary and secondary teacher training, technical education, University education and other post-secondary professional courses. Tertiary education admits even a smaller proportion of secondary school graduates .than does secondary education for primary. The majority of the children in Malawi, therefore, never attend tertiary education.

According to 1999 Malawi Gender and Primary Schooling Drafting Report, in 1995 there were 7,500 places in tertiary institutions including the teacher training, technical and vocational colleges and the University. This, so the report argues, represented a mere 0.3% of the target population.

The tertiary education institutions may be classified into two categories, certificate colleges and diploma and degree colleges. The certificate colleges comprise the Teacher Training, Technical Training, Accountancy, Police, Nursing, Armed Forces Colleges, and School for Health Sciences. There are currently six Teacher Training Colleges in Malawi at the ratio of one in the Northern Region, three in Central Region and two in the Southern region. There are eight Technical Colleges under the Ministry of Labour, Malawi College of Accountancy is under the Accountant General ,Police Training College is under Ministry of Home Affairs while the Armed Forces College is under the Ministry of Defense. There are five certificate Nursing Schools under the Ministry of Health and Population. It is worth noting that quite a number of private tertiary colleges have mushroomed including some with religious bias.

The diploma and degree offering tertiary institutions basically comprise the constituent Colleges of the University of Malawi viz Chancellor College, Bunda College of Agricultural Sciences, the Malawi Polytechnic, Kamuzu College of Nursing and the College of Medicine and the Ministry of Education Secondary School Teacher training College.

Chancellor College comprises a wide range of faculties while Malawi Polytechnic offers a wide range of engineering technical and Business Studies.

Mzuzu University is situated in the northern region of Malawi and offers a wide range of faculties including Education. The African Bible College, The only officially recognised private college of higher learning offers Diplomas and degrees in theology and journalism.

(e) Parastatal Organisations of The Ministry Of Education, Sports and Culture

(1) National Library Service

The National Library Service is changed with the responsibility of promoting, establishing, equipping, maintaining and developing libraries in Malawi. The Board currently provides:

    1. free library services in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu; the municipality of Zomba and Karonga town Council.
    2. Postal lending scheme.
    3. Small library units in Community Centers, Rural Growth Centres, Adult Literacy Centre, Schools, Agriculture Development Divisions (ADD) and other population centres.
    4. Schools service sections which supplies more current and relevant books to Secondary Schools.


The MIE was established to perform the following functions:

    1. undertake, encourage and coordinate curriculum development, evaluation and research;
    2. assist with the training of teachers
    3. provide professional services for all professional personnel in promoting the quality of education.
    4. Arrange for the publication and production of teaching/learning materials.

Essentially it is a centre for curriculum development and inservice teacher education. It also undertakes research into teaching and learning activities in primary schools and evaluate educational materials.

(3) Malawi National Examinations Board

MANEB has responsibility over the following public examinations: Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) Junior Certificate of Education (JCE), Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) and Primary Teachers Certificate of Education (PTCE). The board also develops examination syllabuses for all the subjects.

Through its research and Testing Department, the Board undertakes the development of testing programs the evaluation and testing of job applicants, training measurement and evaluation techniques, and providers research services in Education and Educational Measurement. It has a core staff but also works closely with personnel from other institutions, and it has some capacity for printing materials.

(4) Malawi National Commission for UNESCO

Malawi National Commission for UNESCO is the national organ that links Government Ministries, the intellectual and civil societies with UNESCO in the latter’s field of competence vis-à-vis education, science, culture and communication. In this connection the commission has the following mandates:

.(i) assist the Ministry in training education personnel in various fields of educational management;

    1. Solicit funding and involve the Ministry in UNESCO Programmes which have a bearing on the development of education in Malawi;
    2. involve the Ministry in various pilot educational programmes for UNESCO;
    3. Coordinate UNESCO clubs and the UNESCO Associated Schools Project in Schools;
    4. Advise the Ministry on major global trends in education emanating from international for involving UNESCO and its partners;
    5. Assist the Ministry in preparing for various UNESCO meetings and conferences;
    6. Serve the Ministry with a resource centre that will act as the UNESCO documentation centre for MOE.


The Management of the education system is currently in transition. It is moving from centralised system which has been in place since independence towards a decentralised management culture. Since this decentralisation has not yet been fully institutionalised, the Ministry of Education Head office still retains the responsibility of administering the education sector.

The head of the administrative structure is the Secretary for Education (SE) otherwise refered to as a permanent Secretary in other countries. Below the SE are two Principal Secretaries, responsible for Basic Education and Higher Education respectively. There is a team of seven Sectional Heads: Director of Planning, Methods Advisory Services, Secondary and High Education, Basic Education, Human Resource Management (management services) and Accounting Services.

Through the seven arms the SE controls, supervises, and coordinates activities such as planning, policy formulation, supervision, training and financial management. The country is administratively divided ito six education Divisions and 32 Education District headed by Division Education Manager (DEM) and District Education Officer (DEO) respectively.

In the context of semi institutionalised decentralisation, the divisional and district levels are largely responsible for the Primary Sector; issues pertaining to secondary and tertiary education still tend to be more of central office business than Divisional. However, the trend is strongly moving towards strengthening the Division and districts to plan and execute their plans with as minimal central office interference as possible.

Below the DEO lie the schools and their communities. At the school level the head teacher is the link between school and the District Education Officer the school with the School Committee and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Community level. The school committee and the PTA assist the head in issues of school governance, school organisation and school development. In reality, however, these two bodies are key in the decentralisation process



This chapter aims at presenting the indicators that are going to be used in the assessment.

For the formal Primary School Education Sector EFA 2000 assessment aims at establishing the degree to which these education plans have been implemented between 1990 to 2000. The assessment follows 14 Education Indicators covering access and equity to quality efficiency, and financing primary education. The fourteen indicators are outlined in the following table: -





  1. Percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of organised early childhood development pr0gramme..

Number of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of organised early childhood development programme equivalent to at least 200 hours, expressed as a percentage of total number of new entrants to primary grade 1. This indicator helps to assess the proportion of new entrants to grade 1 presumably have received some preparation for primary schooling through ECD programmes.

Divide the number of new entrants to grade 1 of primary education who have attended some form of organised early childhood development programme by the total number of new entrants to primary grade 1 in a given school-year, and multiply by 100.

A high percentage of new entrants of grade 1 of primary education who have attended some form of organised ECD programme indicates that a large proportion of these children have participated in organised learning activities prior to entering primary school. Progress in schooling is often associated with c ognitive abilities acquired at young ages.

  • Apparent (gross) intake rate: new entrants in primary grade 1 as a percentage of the population of official entry age.

Total number of new entrants in the first grade of primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population at the official primary school-entrance age. The Apparent Intake Rate (AIR) reflects the general level of access to primary education. It also indicates the capacity of the education system to provide access to grade 1 for the official school-entrance age population. This indicator is used as a substitute for Net Intake Rate (NIR) in the absence of data on new entrants by single years of age.

Divide the number of new entrants in grade 1, regardless of age, by the population of the official school-entrance age, and multiply the result by 100.

A high Net Intake Rate indicates in general a high degree of access to primary education. As this calculation includes all new entrants to first grade, including over-aged and under-aged children entering primary school for the first time, the AIR can be more than 100%.

  • Net intake rate: new entrants to primary grade 1 who are of the official primary school-entrance age as a percentage of the corresponding population.

New entrants in the first grade of primary education who are of the official primary school-entrance age, expressed as a percentage of the population of the same age. The Net Intake Rate (NIR) gives a more precise measurement of access to primary education of the eligible, primary school-entrance age population than does the AIR.

Divide the number of children of official primary school-entrance age who enter the first grade of primary education by the population of the same age, and multiply the result by 100.

A high Net Intake Rate indicates a high degree of access to primary education for the official primary school-entrance age children and a high proportion of pupils of the same age in the first primary grade, which may favour pedagogical situation. Countries aiming to universalize primary education will seek to enrol all children at the official school-entrance age, and thus the NIR is a measure of progress in this regard.

  • Gross enrolment ratio (GER)

Total enrolment in primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the eligible official primary school-age population in a given school-year. The GER is widely used to show the general level of participation in and capacity of primary education. It is used in place of the net enrolment ratio (NER) when data on enrolment by single years of age are not available. It can also be used together with the NER to measure the extent of over-aged and underaged enrolment.

Divide the number of pupils enrolled in primary education, regardless of age, by the population of the official primary school age-group and multiply the result by 100.

A high GER indicates a high degree of participation, whether the pupils belong to the official age-group or not. A GER value approaching or exceeding 100 percent indicates that a country is, in principle, able to accommodate all of its primary school-age population, but it does not indicate the proportion of that population actually enrolled. The achievement of a GER of 100 per cent is therefore a necessary but not sufficient condition for universal primary education. However, in order to achieve universal primary education, the number of under-age and over-age pupils would need to decline in order to free places for pupils in the official primary school-age group.

  • Net enrolment ratio. (NER)

Enrolment in primary education of the official primary school age-group expressed as a percentage of the corresponding population. The NER gives a more precise measurement of the extent of participation in primary education of children belonging to the official primary school age.

Divide the number of pupils enrolled in primary education who are of the official primary school age-group by the population for the same age-group and multiply the result by 100.

A high NER denotes a high degree of participation in primary education of the official primary school age-group. The NER’s maximum value is 100%. An NER that increases over time reflects improving participation at the primary level of education. When the NER is compared with the GER, the difference between the two ratios measures the incidence of under-age and over-age enrolment. If the NER is below 100%, then the percentage difference provides a measure of the proportion of primary school-age children not enrolled at the primary level. However, since some primary school-age children could be enrolled at other levels of education, this percentage difference should in no way be considered as indicating the exact percentage of children not enrolled. A more precise complementary indicator is the age-specific enrolment ratio (ASER), which shows the level of participation in education of the population at each particular age.

  • Public current expenditure in primary education (a) as a percentage of GNP and (b) per pupil, as percentage of GNP per capita.

Public current expenditure in primary education expressed as a percentage of GNP shows the share of the value of the total national production of goods and services in a given year that has been devoted to primary education. Public current expenditure per pupil in primary education expressed as a percentage of GNP per capita in given financial year measures the average cost of a pupil in primary education in relation to the country’s GNP per capita. Both indicators when compared with similar indicators for other levels of education, also measure the relative emphasis given to investment in primary education.

  1. Divide public current expenditure on primary education in a given year by the GNP for the same year and multiply by 100.
  2. Divide per pupil public current expenditure on primary education in a given year by the GNP per capita for same year and multiply by 100.

High percentage values for both indicators (a) and (b) generally denote a high level of spending on primary education. Indicator (a) measures the overall proportion of GNP that has been spent on primary education by the public authorities (central, provincial and local). Indicator (b) measures the per pupil cost in primary education in relation to GNP per capita, thereby relating average spending per pupil to the theoretical average per capita income within the country. This avoids problems of international comparability that would result if spending per pupil were converted into a common currency applying exchange rates. One should, however, interpret with care a high level of spending per pupil since this could simply reflect low enrolment. Per pupil expenditure as a percentage of GNP per capita should therefore be viewed in conjunction with enrolment ratios. Low expenditure per pupil and low enrolment in primary education when compared to high expenditure and/or low enrolment in tertiary education suggests a need to reconsider resource allocations within the education sector, especially if universal primary education is being given priority.

7 Public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education.

Public expenditure for primary education expressed as a percentage of total public expenditure on education. This indicator shows the relative share of expenditure on primary education within overall public expenditure on education.

Divide public expenditure devoted to primary education by total public expenditure on all levels of education, and multiply the result by 100.

A relatively high percentage of public expenditure devoted to primary education denotes the priority given to primary education in national educational policies and resource allocation. When interpreting this indicator, one should take into account the corresponding primary level enrolment, the GER and NER, and then assess the relative current expenditure per pupil accordingly.

8. Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications.

The number of primary school teachers with at least the minimum academic qualifications required by the public authorities for teaching in primary education, expressed as a percentage of the total number of primary school teachers. This indicator measures the proportion of primary school teachers who meet the basic requirement in terms of academic qualifications as specified by the country’s authorities. It indicates the general quality of a country’s human capital involved in teaching in primary education. Teachers are persons who, in their professional capacity, guide and direct pupils’ learning experiences in gaining the knowledge, attitudes and skills that are stipulated in a defined curriculum programme.

Divide the number of primary school teachers having the minimum required academic qualifications by the total number of primary school teachers, and multiply by 100.

A high percentage of teachers having the required academic qualifications denotes the availability of academically qualified teachers and the general quality of the teaching force. Teachers’ academic qualifications, together with pre-service or in-service teacher training, correlate strongly and consistently with pupils’ scholastic performance, which of course is also affected by other factors, such as the experience and status of teachers, teaching methods, teaching materials and the quality of classroom conditions. It should be noted that some teachers without the required academic qualifications may acquire equivalent competence in the subject matter through professional experience and self instruction.

9. Percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach according to national standards.

The number of primary school teachers who are certified to have received the minimum organised teacher-training (pre-service or in-service) required for teaching in primary education, expressed as a percentage of the total number of primary school teachers. This indicator measures the proportion of primary school teachers trained in pedagogical skills, according to national standards, to effectively teach and use the available instructional materials. It reveals also a country'’ commitment to invest in the development of its human capital involved in teaching activities. Teachers are persons who, in their professional capacity, guide and direct pupils’ learning experiences in gaining the knowledge, attitudes and skills that are stipulated in a defined curriculum programme.

Divide the number of primary school teachers who are certified to have received the minimum required teacher-training by the total number of primary school teachers, and multiply by 100.

A high percentage of teachers certified to teach in primary schools implies that a majority of the teaching force is trained and has the necessary pedagogical skills to teach and use the available instructional materials in an effective manner. This indicator does not take into account differences in teachers’ experiences and status, teaching methods, teaching materials and variations in classroom conditions -- all factors that also affect the quality of teaching/learning. It should be noted that some teachers without this certification may have acquired equivalent pedagogical skills through professional experience.

10.Pupil/teacher ratio (PTR)

Average number of pupils per teacher in primary education in a given school-year. Teachers are persons who, in their professional capacity, guide and direct pupils’ learning experiences in gaining the knowledge, attitudes and skills that are stipulated in a defined curriculum programme. This indicator is used to measure the level of human resources input, in terms of number of teachers, in relation to the size of the pupil population.

Divide the total number of pupils enrolled in primary education by the number of teacher at the same level.

The PTR should normally be compared to establish national norms on the number of pupils per teacher for each level or type of education. A high pupil/teacher ratio suggests that each teacher has to deal with a large number of pupils and that, conversely, pupils receive less attention from the teacher. It is generally assumed that a low pupil/teacher ratio signifies smaller classes, which enable the teacher to pay more attention to individual pupils and thus contribute to the better scholastic performance of the pupils. This indicator does not take into account differences in teachers’ academic qualifications, pedagogical training, professional experience and status, teaching methods, teaching materials and variations in classroom conditions – all factors that could also affect the quality of teaching/learning and pupil performance.

11. Repetition rates by grade.

Proportion of pupils enrolled in a given grade in a given school-year who study in the same grade the following school-year. This indicator measures the phenomenon of pupils repeating a grade, and is one measure of the internal efficiency of the primary education cycle.

Divide the number of repeaters in a given grade in school-year t+1 by the number of pupils enrolled in the same grade in the previous school-year t.

Repetition rates should ideally approach zero per cent. High repetition rates reveal problems in the internal efficiency of the education system and possibly reflect a poor level of instruction. When compared across grades, the patterns can indicate specific grades with relatively high repetition rates, hence requiring more in-depth study of the causes and possible remedies. In some cases, low repetitions rates merely reflect policies or practices of automatic promotion. The maximum repetition rate and the number of grade repetitions allowed may in some cases be determined by the education authorities in order to cope with limited capacity at certain grade levels and to increase the flow of pupils through the education cycle. Consequently, care should be taken in interpreting this indicator, especially when making comparisons between education systems.

12. Survival rate to grade 5 (percentage of a pupil cohort actually reaching grade 5).

Percentage of a cohort of pupils who enrolled in the first grade of primary education in a given school-year and who eventually reach grade 5. Its purpose is to assess the "holding power" and internal efficiency of an education system. The survival rate to grade 5 indicates the proportion of a pupil cohort that completes grade 4 and reaches grade 5. Conversely, it indicates the magnitude of drop-out before grade 5.

Divide the total number of pupils belonging to a pupil cohort who reached each successive grade of primary education by the number of pupils in the original pupil cohort, i.e. those pupils who enrolled together in the first grade of primary education, and multiply the result by 100.

Survival rate to grade 5 of primary education is of particular interest because the completion of at least four years of schooling is commonly considered a pre-requisite for a sustainable level of literacy. The distinction between survival rate with and without repetition is necessary to determine the extent of wastage due to drop-our and to repetition. Given that this indicator is usually estimated using cohort analysis models that are based on a number of assumptions, care should be taken in making comparisons across countries.

13. Coefficient of efficiency (ideal number of pupil years needed for a pupil cohort to complete the primary cycle, expressed as a percentage of the actual number of pupil-years).

The ideal (optimal) number of pupil-years required (i.e. in the absence of repetition and drop-out) to produce a number of graduates from a given pupil cohort in primary education expressed as a percentage of the actual number of pupil-years spent to produce the same number of graduates. One school-year spent in a grade by a pupil is counted as one pupil-year. The coefficient of efficiency is a synthetic indicator of the internal efficiency of an education system. It summarises the consequences of repetition and drop-out on the efficiency of the educational process in producing graduates. The coefficient of efficiency is the reciprocal of the Input-Output ratio, which is often used as an alternative indicator of internal efficiency.

Divide the ideal number of pupil-years required to produce a number of graduates from a given pupil cohort in primary education by the actual number of pupil-years spent to produce the same number of graduates, and multiply the result by 100.

A coefficient of efficiency approaching 100% indicates a high overall level of internal efficiency and little wastage due to repetition and drop-out. A coefficient of efficiency that is less than 100% signals inefficiency due to grade repetition and drop-out. Given that this indicator is usually derived using cohort analysis models that are based on a number of assumptions, and owing to its highly synthetic nature, care should be taken in making comparisons across education systems. From a conceptual viewpoint, economic efficiency and resource utilization are optimal when most pupils graduate within the prescribed duration of the primary cycle, but this does not necessarily imply achievement of the expected learning outcomes. Also, according to this calculation method, early drop-out (i.e. in the lower grades) reduces internal efficiency less than late drop-out (i.e. in the higher grades). This means that efficiency from the economic point of view can be in contradiction with educational objectives that aim to retain pupils in school as long as possible or at least until they reach the higher grades in the primary cycle when they would have acquired the prescribed basic knowledge and skills.

14. Percentage of pupils having reached at least grade 4 of primary schooling who master a set of nationally defined basic learning competencies.

The number of pupils who have mastered a defined level of basic learning competencies by grade 4 (or another higher grade), expressed as a percentage of the total sample or of the total number of pupils in grade 4 (or the corresponding grade). This indicator seeks to measure learning achievement in respect to the minimum basic knowledge and analytical skills expected of pupils having reached that grade.

Divide the number of pupils in grade 4 (or another grade) who master a defined level of basic learning competencies by the total sample or total number of pupils in grade 4 (or the corresponding grade), and multiply by 100. Data required include the summary results from competency examinations administered to pupils in grade 4 (or another higher grade) or from other assessments of their learning competencies; and the total sample or total number of pupils in grade 4 (or the corresponding grade). The instruments used to measure basic learning competencies (e.g. literacy and numeracy) may include standardized examinations, sample surveys, or simply teachers’ assessment of pupils’ mastery of such competencies.

The intention of this indicator is to gather information on the basic learning competencies of pupils (as measured against national standards) towards the end of the first stage of basic education. A high value suggests that basic learning competencies are mastered by most pupils in grade 4 (or another higher grade). Pupils showing high learning achievement in grade 4 (or another higher grade) are also likely to perform effectively at higher levels of learning. This indicator of mastery of basic learning competencies should be examined in relation to enrolment and completion rates at the primary school level in order to assess the overall effectiveness of primary schooling in respect to promoting learning by individuals and to larger societal development objectives.


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