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This section outlines, the provision of non-formal education, how the structures evolved and their role in constraining or facilitating Education for All.


(a) Introduction

The Education for all 2000 Assessment Technical Guidelines place Early Childhood Education in the first theme of basic education dabbed " Early Childhood Care and Development" (International Consultative Forum On Education For All, Education For All, The year 2000 Assessment Technical Guidelines – ICFEFA, EFA2000ATG, 1999). This makes the education aspect carry with itself all the other supportive factors to pre-school education including family and Community interventions, especially for poor disadvantaged and disabled children. These supportive factors are addressed through a full range of purposeful and organised activities intended to provide for the healthy growth and developmental needs of children from birth to eight years of age (EFA 2000 ATG). The activities are provided under the supervision of several areas of state responsibility, such as education, health, nutrition, Social Welfare etc. In contemporary society education policies emphasies the integration of education for the physically and mentally impaired people with the ordinary formal education system, Early childhood Development bears the responsibility of identifying impairement at an early

Stage. ECD also has the duty to see to it that special needs of education children are given good and relevant education right from the pre-school stage.

(b) Historical Profile

Before proceeding to a historical profile of Early Childhood Education it is important that two terms that are often misused in this area of assessment are clearly defined. These terms are pre- school playgroup and children Day Care Centre. Children Day Care Centre is normally is a short form of Early Childhood Care and Development Centre. Early Childhood Care and Development Centres are places organised with the purposes of offering the child all his or her needs for holistic development. The emphasis is to make the child grow healthy in all aspects: physical (free from disease well nourished), emotional (through peer play), intellectual (basics in Numeracy, literacy, picture drawing ). Such centres may not easily be run by private individuals for commercial purposes for they are bound to be expensive.

Within this context of the Early Childhood Care and Development Education is the Pre-School Playgroup. These are centres organised for pre-school education with very little to do with the health-related provisions. Tthe Day Care Centre there is a concern for and provisions are made available towards a healthy holistic growth of the child. In the Pre-school playgroup the central theme is peer socialisation with little cognitive preparation for standard1. Pre-school playgroup activities start at the age of 3 while Early Childhood Care and Development Activities (ECCDA) begin from conception targetting the mother of the child even before the child is born.

In Malawi, Early Childhood Education is one of the recent developments in the education sector. Its origin can be traced to somewhere towards the late 60’s when Christian churches and church related organisations opened a few pre-school playgroups in the urban centres of the country. These initiatives of pre school playgroups were responses to the needs a few full time employed women in the urban areas, who lacked officially designed and designated places for the care and recreation of their pre-school age children while they were at work (UNESCO_MALAWI " Towards Integrating Formal and non-formal Education, TIFANFEM, 1991).

Government then recognised the need for pre-school playgroups and through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, started supporting the activities of ECCDE in the early 70's. Pre-school play groups and or Day Care Centres were opened District administration centres (bomas), using borrowed premises like town/city/district Council Halls and Church buildings.

(c) Association of Preschool Playgroups in Malawi

In 1970, government facilitated the formation of the Association for Pre-School playgroups of Malawi (APPM), a non-governmental organisation, with a mandate to coordinate the activities of pre- school playgroups and Day Care Centres in Malawi (USAID-MALAWI), No-governmental Organisations in the Education Sector, NGOIES, 1994). Since then, the coordination work is done with the assistance of District Social Welfare Officers (DSWOs), which is one way through This government is contributing towards the cause of Pre- school education. Government also subsidises the running costs of the APPM by paying out an annual subsidy of K28, 000, the equivalence of US$622.2 (Source-face to face interviews with the executive Secretary for APPM, 1999). Government also provides reading/pictures materials to the groups/centres through the National Library services.

(d) Pre-school Playgroups Objectives

According to the APPM Policy document, the Pre-school Programme in Malawi aims to promote the social, intellectual, emotional and physical development of Children between the ages of three to five and half years. As such, it focuses on "education through play" and proper care of children in a healthy and friendly environment. The Pre-school programme is also supposed to support mothers and their families in the vital years of the child’s life something (USAID-MALAWI, NGOIES, 1994).

(e) Urbanization and Early Childhood Education

Increasing urbanisation, the rise in number of families with both parents having full employment and the increase in public awareness of the importance of Education have, between 1970 and to-date, expanded the demand for pre-school playgroups. Issues of poverty, discrimination on gender lines and food insecurity have, over time also, compelled government, churches, non -governmental organisations and individual businessmen to take chance and venture in serving and saving the souls of the pre-school child and his or her mother from extinction by investing in Early Childhood Care and Development.

(f) Community-Based Day Care Centres

Government of Malawi had by 1990 launched a Pilot Programme of Community- Based Child Care Centres. The pilot covered ten centres with total enrolment of 1,000 Children of ages 0-6 (Towards Education For All, 1990). The objectives of the programme were as follows:

    1. To act as immunisation and feeding centres so as to assist in increasing the coverage of health services in the fight against malnutrition, morbidity and mortality;
    2. To provide child stimulation with meaningful play, recreation, and education; and competent care by trained workers;
    3. To ease the womens' burden of child rearing while silmutaneously affording them the time to carry out other productive activities for their household and in development generally; and
    4. to serve as focal points for child related services and other community development and mobilization programmes.

It was emphasised that in this day care programme the most important resource was the community in which the Centre was established. The community managed the Centre on Voluntary basis and was required to contribute to the material requirements such as foodstuffs for the nutrition aspects of the program, toys and play equipment. Members of the Community were also expected to contribute by providing their labour on various aspects of the centres' activities.

Plans for the extension of this pilot programme targeted coverage of 1.2 Million Children countrywide, by 1995. Its major constraints however, included provision of basic equipment and the training of volunteers and extension workers in child care services.

A UNESCO-MALAWI "Towards Integrating Formal and Non- Formal Education in Malawi "TIFANFEIM 1991, puts the total number of pre school playgroups at 200. But in this report there is no clear distinction between pre school playgroups and Early Childhood Care and Development Centres (Day care Centres). Of the 200 Centres/groups, 15 to 25% were under the APPM while the rest (55%) were privately owned. Each Centre/group was managed according to the vision of the proprietor. This was so because by then, even the APPM had no common curriculum for the centres/groups under its jurisdiction (UNESCO-MALAWI TIFANFEIM, 1991)

Early Childhood Education by 1994

When government started providing early childhood education facilities though at a small scale, the private sector and other non-governmental organisation also joined the service. By 1994, NGOs (apart form APPM) that offered one form or the other of services in ECCD included the following:

    1. Save the Children (SCF)(US),
    2. World Vision International (WVI),
    3. Moslem Association of Malawi (MAM)
    4. Church of Central Africa (CCAP): Blantyre synod,
    5. Action Aid (AA) and
    6. Other Church Organisations (USAID-MALAWI, NGOIES, 1994).

World Vision assisted communities in the lower shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, to organise playgroup centres and paid the teachers and provided food for the children. Save the Children Fund (US) assisted with teacher training and training of community-mobilisers for pre-schools, and has liased and worked with the APPM in establishing six Pre-schools, three in Mzimba-Mbalachanda and three in Kasungu-Nkhota.

CCAP Blantyre Synod has pre-school in Blantyre, Domasi and Mulanje. Plans were underway in 1994 to have Action Aid establish Community-based Pre-schools in the central region District of Dowa especially in area of Chief Msakambewa to raise the interest in the community on the importance of Education.


Despite inability by the majority of parents to meet the costs of Early Child hood Care and Education, there was, by 1994 still tremendous increase in demand for the service both for the rural and urban communities. In order to make pre-school play groups accessible to poor children, the association adopted the 1990 governments strategy of community based pre-school playgroups. which the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Community Services was at the same time implementing in Chikwawa, Mzimba and Salima.


Community-based pre-school playgroups are organised through Voluntary Parents Committees (VPC), Volunteer teachers (women with PLSC), and also illiterate women are selected by parents and trained by the Association at its residential training Centre in Blantyre. The parents committee determined fees and once collected, they are used for feeding the children. The volunteer teachers only get honorarium determined by how much remains from the food purchases every month (USAID-MALAWI, NGOIES, 1994).

ECCDE Administrative and Professional Progress

The Association had by 1994 developed clear guidelines regarding the establishment of Pre-school groups. It also provided training to mothers/volunteers in the organisation and management of Pre-school playgroups, in production of simple play materials, and the monitoring of the play-groups. Plans were also underway to liase with the Malawi Institute of Education to prepare a Pre-school curriculum that worked to establish a link with primary education.



The youth in Malawi refer to young men and women of the age 14 to 25. However, because of issues of failure to attend school or and dropping out from school, programmes of the youth include children of 10 to 14 years old. Thus education for the youth out of school refers to training oriented education offered to these youth who for a multiplicity of factors failed to access any form of formal learning in their life and or those who dropped out of Primary School before completing its full cycle.

Out of school youth education is for survival, it is therefore centred on essential basic skills and survival to enable the youth to participate in economic, Social, Cultural and political development. It, therefore, addresses a wide range of learning activities at the basic level with the aim of imparting knowledge, Skills and attitudes that are necessary for everyday life at work and for life improvement in general (EFA 2000 ATG)

The scope of assessment in this area extends beyond provision and includes effectiveness and impact of programmes as seen in behavioural change and improvements in health, employment rates and productivity (EFA 2000 ATG, 1998).

Categories of Youth in Malawi

A republic of Malawi National Youth Development Plan of Action (ROM, NYDPA) for 1995 categorises the targeted youth in this area as follows:

  1. Urban and rural poor Youths;
  2. Street Youths;
  3. Out-of-school Youths (drop-outs);
  4. Youth with disabilities;
  5. Semiliterate and illiterate youths;
  6. Deviant Youths;
  7. Young women;
  8. Unemployed Youths; and
  9. Orphaned Youths

It is the position of the education of these people that this section intends to discuss. The discussion will be answering questions like. What type of education did Malawi offer to these youth before the Jomtien Declaration on Education for All in 1990? Who provided the services? How were the services financed? How much access was there? What was the quality programmes? What were the gains and challenges. The same questions have to be answered as we explore the ten-year period from 1990 to the year 2000.

Situation Prior to 1990

Education to the out of school youth was an area under the jurisdiction of Ministries of Community Development and Social Welfare (today, Gender, Youth and Community Development), the Department of Youth, the Malawi Young Pioneers and a few Non-Governmental Organizations. Under the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, there are four parastatal organizations that provided training courses in life skills which included carpentry, bricklaying tinsmithing and Welding

These organizations included Kamuzu Vocational Rehabilitation Center of the Malawi Council for the Handicapped, Mpemba Boys Home, Chilwa Approved School, Salima Youth Trade School and the Malawi Entreprenneurship Development Institute –MEDI- (UNESCO_MALAWI TIFQNFEIN, 1991).

The Department of Youth in Conjunction, with the Malawi Young Pioneers Movement (MYP) offered Agricultural Science, Technical and Vocational Education through residential training bases. The training bases were established all over the country. Unfortunately, the main agenda of the MYP education was political indoctrination aimed at fostering the interests of the one party Government.

The assessment team failed to get any special study that has been conducted to assess the access levels of the institutions/organisations outlined above and even the quality of training offered. It may be argued, however that Malawi Young Pioneer training bases absorbed a significant number of the Youth in this category. A good number of the graduates from training bases ended up joining the civil service, the private sector and the Armed Forces. To date, a good percentage of those in the security services have an MYP background. The only problem with MYP however was the ruthless stance they took when it came to protecting the image of their master, the head of state in the one-party democracy. It is for this reason that MYP bases were razed out by the army in 1993 as the country was preparing for multi-party democracy. At the time of the destruction of MYP premises, dabbed "Operation Bwezani" data that could been studied to establish a balanced analysis of the movement, got destroyed.

However, as indicated earlier, more work in the area of Youth Education is done by Non-Governmental organizations both local and external. The 1994 USAID MALAWI Needs Assessment Survey on Non-Governmental organizations, states that 50 per-cent of the 75 NGOs registered in Malawi by that year were actively engaged in Skills Training and Vocational Education. The report points out that the NGOs target programmes to do with school drop-outs, those that have never attended school, school leavers and rural women. The NGOs rational for targetting these groups was that post-primary school curriculum did not equip school leavers with marketable skills and that school dropouts and those who had never attended schools had scarce opportunities for acquiring skills to earn a living. Their prospects for entering the labour market or becoming self-employed were bleak (USAID-MALAWI, NGOIES, 1994). This, was because formal sector employment had declined and was unable to accommodate the increasing labour force estimated at 1990 as 145,000 jobs seekers per annum, competing for 15,000-35,000 job-openings annually (GOM-DEVPOL 1987-1996).

Thus the NGO Programmes in skills training and vocational education, ranged from community based non-formal, non-institutional activities aimed at training participants for self employment in the informal sector, to the more formal structured curricula in technical colleges. The latter institutions were and still are generally preparing trainees to enter formal employment, with standard Government Certification.

Technical Training

There were by 1994 thirteen NGOs offering technical training and these were as follows:

  1. Presybeterian Church Assisted Technical College for men (Livingstonia Synod)
  2. Catholic Secretariat Assisted Technical College for both sexes (Mzuzu).
  3. Dedza Private Technical School
  4. Thyolo Private Technical School
  5. Livingstonia Synod Assisted Technical College at Livingstonia.
  6. Phwezi Foundation Rural Polytechnic in Rumphi
  7. Livingstonia Synod Unassisted Carpentry School at Ekwendeni
  8. Domasi Carpentry training Centre (Blantyre Synod).
  9. Mulanje Carpentry training Centre (Blantyre Synod).
  10. Balaka Carpentry training Centre (Blantyre Synod).
  11. Chembera Carpentry training Centre (Blantyre Synod).
  12. Ekwendeni Home Craft and Office Management School (Livingstonia synod;d
  13. Malingunde Homecraft Centre (Nkhoma Synod).

Effectiveness of the Courses

Considered from the view- point of the degree of employability of graduates, the technical courses of the Catholic Secretarial, Livingstonia and Blantyre Synods were deemed effective by the report. Graduates from these institutions were readily absorbed into the job market both at national and community level. The report, however, indicated lack of effectiveness, in this respect, of the Phwezi Rural Polytechnic Courses. Many of the graduates of the Polytechnic remained unemployed on return to their communities.

The major problem associated with Phwezi rural Polytechnic, which could also be true with the other courses in this Education sector was lack of adequate training in entrepreneurial and basic business management skills to make the graduates competent self-employers. However, once that deficiency is filled up, there still remains something out of the control of the colleges/schools; Capital to enable the graduates start their own enterprises. The report states that by 1994, Phwezi foundation had already started negotiations leading to the redressing of this Challenge. Negotiation partners were money lending institutions like the Small Enterprise Development Organisation of Malawi (SEDOM) and the Development of Malawian Traders Trust (DEMATT).

Formal Vocational Education and Skills Training

(a) NGOs Contribution

Thirteen NGOs were involved in formal vocational education by March 1994, and these were;

  1. Chilema Ecumenical Lay Training Centre of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi.
  2. Christian Service Committee (CSC).
  3. C.C.A.P. Blantyre Synod.
  4. Evangelical Alliance for Relief and Development (EVARD)
  5. The Nazarene Vocational School (NVS).
  6. Paper Making Education Trust (PAMET).
  7. Phwezi Foundation.
  8. Save the Children Federation (US).
  9. Save the Children Fund/Malawi (Thandizani Ana).
  10. Tiyende Women In Development (TWD).
  11. World Vision International (WVI).
  12. Action Aid.
  13. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)

(B) Course –Content And Skills

The content of skills training,provided on a non-formal basis by the above outlined NGOs, was vast and varied.Their skills training was targeted towards meeting the needs of school drop-outs and out-of-school youth in the informal market although in some programmes certification was also obtained (USAID-MALAWI, NGOIES, 1994) As such the course aimed at self-employment and income generation (see annex….).

© National youth council

In 1995, October, a national youth policy was launched, a National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCM) opened a year later with a systematically laid out Youth Development Plan of Action (YDEVPA) for 1996-2000.

The youth Development plan of Action states that the Youth Council of Malawi had been created with a mandate to carry out the following:

  1. Work together with various agencies engaged in Youth development activities and foster co-operation among those agencies to promote the provision of efficient youth development services.
  2. Encourage and carryout research in various fields concerning youth development programmes. The research would be done in liaison with other research institutions.
  3. Undertake the responsibility of training of Youth Skills Training Centres’ staff to ensure the availability of suitably qualified tutor/instructors and administrators.
  4. Establish spirit of co-operation with other training agencies at home and abroad in order to acquire the facilities needed for all the required training of the instructors and administrators.
  5. Mobilise human, financial and material resources for the youth development programmes.

The National Youth Council DEVLOP 1996 –2006 outlines four priority areas. These areas are:

Education, Training and Youth Employment

The plan recognises the important role of sound Basic Education for the youth as the foundation of all Youth Programmes. The plan, therefore emphasises activities which will expand access, increase participation, improve quality and relevance of the education delivered. The Plan recognises that Youth Skills training for self-reliance constitute the core of Youth development programmes. It thus envisaged the establishment of Youth Skills Training centres through which various types of basic occupational skills will be taught in response to the needs of the Youth and the respective communities in which they live. This, sounds a replica of what the NGOs are already doing.

On employment, the plan aims at ensuring equal opportunities of employment for youth in the formal employment sector. It also targets the promotion of small scale Enterpreneurships or co-operatives aimed at engaging the Youth in meaningful incoming-generating business enterprises geared towards the promotion of self-reliance among the youth.

It is expected that individual businesses or cooperative would serve a variety of purposes, such as creation of opportunities for self-employment; consolidation of skills gained in the Skills Training Centres; and contribution to community and national development.

2. Science, Technology and the Environment

The plan envisages the inculcation and development of a scientific culture among the youth in order to enhance development. It also places importance on the increase in environmental awareness in order to achieve sustainable development.

3. Population, Health and Nutrition

The youth Policy acknowledges that Malawis’ land resources are limited and yet population is still growing. In order to contain this phenomenon the plan of Action contains Family Life Education activities. These would invariably include issues of adolescent reproductive health and nutritional aspects, which would ensure that the youth are healthy. Diseases and pandemics such as HIV/AIDS are also addressed. Particular attention is paid to activities that would empower girls and young women.

4. Social Services, Recreation, Sports and Culture

The plan of Action acknowledges that the youth are full of energy and that their physiological development is an important element of their healthy living. At the same time it is realised that the youth are subjected to numerous social and psychological pressures which necessitate proper guidance and counselling. The plan therefore, provides for the rehabilitation and establishment of Sports and Recreation centres, which could act as recreation and counselling centres. Lastly but not least in importance, the plan takes care of efforts to foster national identity and unity through the propagation of Malawi Culture among the Youth.

As it may be deduced from the 1996-2000 Youth Development Action Plan, GOM had on paper made an effort to respond to the Challenges that were identified in the USAID-MALAWI 1994 Needs Assessment report on Non-Governmental Organisations’ contribution towards education.

However, it is not always that plans are translated automatically into actions. And this seems to be the truth about what is actually on the ground to date in the area of education for the Youth outside School.

As the EFA Core team busied, itself consolidating data for the compilation of the report, it came to their notice that very little, if anything, has been done by Government to address the issues raised in the 1994 USAID report and the 1995 Development Plan. There is still up to date no research that has been carried out to establish exactly how many youth in the age-range and social categories involved here have benefited from the available skills training. It is still not known how many of the total number of those that have been trained are employed either in the formal or informal sector. And similarly, it is not clear how many of the Youth in this category need to be reached.

A face to face interview with the Deputy Executive Secretary for the National Youth Council of Malawi in September, 1999, indicated that all the council’s programmes though prioritised and critically relevant to Malawi were grounded because of lack of funds. The Deputy Executive Secretary explained that the major problem is the administrative set up of the Council. The Council is not an autonomous Cost -Centre. It is funded as part of the mother Ministry, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Community Services. Even donor-funded programmes under its control are still funded through the mother Ministry. The Vastness and critical nature of the programmes in the mother ministry, time and again, have forced the Ministry to compromise the priorities of the Youth Council thereby rendering it unable to fulfil its plans.

The Deputy Executive Secretary thus stated that the only programme that the Council was proud of seeing materialising and succeeding is that on Adolescent Reproductive Health Management which is also an initiative in other non governmental organisations like Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM).

5. Adolescent Reproductive Health Management

This is a donor-funded initiative that aims to engage the adolescent youth in positive active activities at school and at leisure. It mainly focuses on teaching the Youth about sex and sexuality vis-a vis sexually transmitted diseases (HIV/aids) and family planning or safe boy-girl relationships.

The Youth Council works closely with the National Family Planning Council, Ministry of Health and Population, Council, for Non-Governmental Organisations (CONGOMA) and other reproductive Health agencies.

Thus the initiative has a well-planned network of communication from the Youth Council to Regional and District Youth Officers. At district level, there are District Youth Technical Communities (DYTCs) to plan and execute district projects and programmes. These committees comprise representatives from District Youth Office, teachers, the DEO’s Office, Medical personnel, District Social Welfare Office and Village-level Adolescent Reproductive Health Management Clubs.

In schools, both primary and secondary, teachers are encouraged to form Adolescent Reproductive Health Management Clubs or utilise Anti-Aids (Edzi Toto) clubs. A curriculum is prepared with pre-arranged content and suggested teaching teaching and learning techniques. The advice is to handle these issues as extra-curricula activities. Drama is one of the most extensively used modes of communication and teaching at school and village-level. Posters carrying adductive messages for the Youth are produced and sent to all schools and public offices all over the country.

For radio broadcast, the National Youth Council in collaboration with other agencies interested in Adolescent Reproduction present a radio programme known as "Straight Talk" In this programme the Youth use comedies, radio plays, poetry and radio Question-answer competition to transmit to their fellow youth messages about sex, drug, alcohol and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and some vital cultural issues.

Being the first radio break-through to have the Youth discuss their own sexuality, the programme has triggered a lot of criticism in both the print and electronic media as regards its cultural validity. Some people tend to argue that it is contributing to the increase in sexual promiscuity among the Youth. Others argue that it is better to have a well informed youth that is able to make sound decision about themselves than an ignorant youth that make fatal decision on critical issues affecting their life. However, there have been reports in the print Media to the effect that many teachers are failing to implement the school-based programmes because of shyness to present the materials the way they are supposed to be presented.

On the point of fostering identity and unity, Government is promoting the activities of a national traditional dance group; the Kwacha Cultural Troupe (Malawi Cultural Dance Company). The troupe has just completed the construction of its premises at city centre in Lilongwe. The premises comprise dressing rooms, offices and min-stadium.

The Kwacha Cultural troupe Stages traditional dance shows in tourist centres, other relevant public places and on Television Malawi Dances from across the country are performed using songs composed in the specific languages of the localities from which the dance is performed. However, exposure to this is still limited heavily to the urban middle class who can either afford the charge for admission into the performance premises or have a Television Screen. For the rural masses this unifying and culture enhancing service is almost non-existent.

An attempt to take care of Street children has been made by a non-governmental organisation; the Samaritan. The Samaritan organisation way founded in 1995 following the inception of the multi-party era. Unfortunately official details of the activities and programmes of this organisation have been difficult to come by. What is obvious however, is that the organisation used to collect street youth from the city of Blantyre, take them to the organisation premises. At the premises, the youth are given school instruction by teachers and then given lunch.

In conclusion it has been seen that between 1990.and 1999 education of the Youth out of school has been dominated by the private sector and especially religious affiliated non-governmental organisations. The Skills training offered has remained a service confined to limited scope and lacking in business management skills necessary for self-employment. It has also become apparent that although the religious institutions may not put laws discriminating against non-members, in the enrolment to the courses, chances are high that those who become aware of the availability of such provisions may in the main be the members of that religious group. It has also become clear that most of the local non-governmental organisations offering services in this sector are either recent developments or area/district-based institutions (not national). This being the case, these organisations lack national publicity.

6.Adult Literacy Education in Malawi

Government of Malawi has since January 1986 been offering Adult Literacy Education through the machinery of the National Adult Literacy Programme (NALP). National Adult Literacy Programme was launched in January 1986. NALP co-ordinated the adult Literacy Services through an inter-agency advisory body, the National Advisory Council for Literacy and Adult Education (GOM-TEFA, 1990).

The NALP is administered by the National Centre for Literacy and Adult Education in conjunction with the Sugar Corporation of Malawi, city and municipality councils of Zomba, Lilongwe and Blantyre; the now defunct Malawi Young Pioneers. UNICEF and non-governmental organisations (UNESCO-MALAWI –TIFANFEIM, 1991). At the time of launching the NALP the illiteracy rate was approximately 75% with absolute numbers being over 3 million illiterates. The Programme’s goal was to make 2.5 million adults literate by the year 2000. The target population for the NALP are illiterate adults aged 15 years and above. As regards services rendered, at the grassroots level, use is made of volunteer instructors identified and selected by communities through literacy committees. After selection literacy instructors undergo training in adult education teaching methods normally for a two week duration. Each literacy class, comprises 25 learners. Literacy classes are conducted for 10 months, meeting four times a week in two hourly sessions making a total of 365 instructional hours. Currently, a monthly honorarium of MK200.00 equivalence of US$ 4.4 is given to each instructor for having actually taught. At the end of 10 months learners are assessed and declared either literate or not. Thereafter, those declared literate are awarded with certificates. However, mention should also be made that literacy committees are responsible for the day today running of NALP at the village level.

The programme objectives are as follows:-

    1. To increase the attainment and use of literacy skills so as to sustain the process of learning and life long continuing education for adults.
    2. To enable rural adults, particularly smallholder- farmers, take full advantage of modern simple but effective farming techniques, improve health habits and practices, better family life and community living and foster national integration through education.
    3. To improve the status, general knowledge and technical skills for rural people, especially smallholder farmers by making them receptive to innovations and modernisation through functional literacy and continuing education activities.

Thus essentially the National Adult Literacy Programme aims at reducing illiteracy in the country, promoting self-reliance and enhancing people’s participation in socio-economic development.

At area level, Community Development Assistants (CDA’s) assume the responsibility of literacy supervisors each in charge of 15-20 literacy classes. The CDA is a permanent Government employee trained in Community Development work (including literacy). She/he has practical knowledge in the organisation and management of literacy work.

For all practical purposes, the administrative district is considered a key unit for planning and administration of the NALP. The District Community Development Officer (DCDO) designated as District Literacy Coordinator, directed and assisted by a Regional Coordinator is responsible for overall management and supervision. She/he supervises up to 15 CDAS. Further, the DCDO facilitates the participation of other development agencies (ie Education, Health, Agriculture etc) in literacy education and other related developmental efforts.

At national level, the National Centre for Literacy and Adult Education (NCLAE) serves as the executive arm of the National Advisory Council for literacy and Adult Education (not functioning). The centre is responsible for providing technical guidance and professional support in matters relating to :

The NCLAE is also responsible for seeking collaboration with various specialised agencies (both Gos and NGO’s). It is also seeking partner Implementing agencies such as WID (ADB), Action Aid-Malawi, World Vision international, Oxfam, Concern Universal, City Assemblies (Blantyre and Lilongwe), International, Oxfam, Concern Universal, City Assemblies (Blantyre and Lilongwe), religious organisations (Catholic, CCAP –Blantyre Synod, Lutheran church, Baptist, etc). Other partners at international level (i.e. UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, CODE, DSE, etc). have already been supportive to the NALP technically, financially and materially.


The following NGOs have been outstanding in their contribution towards the provision of Adult Literacy Education in Malawi: Action Aid, EVARD, SCF (US) the C.C.A.P. Blantyre and Livingstonia synods, Christian Council of Malawi, World Vision International, Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) and the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai.

The NGOs have deliberately targeted areas with high illiteracy rates as their geographical impact areas. Good examples are areas like Msakambewa in Dowa and Mangochi district with illiteracy rates of 65% (Msakambewa) and 85% for women and 75% for men (Mangochi) respectively. See Annex 1 for details.

Non-Governmental Organisation Observations on Adult Literacy

  1. Though adult Literacy programme merit attention, they cannot on themselves produce any lasting solution if efforts and investments are not accelerated in addressing the basic education needs of children and Youth. Those children and youth who have no access to education at all are particularly important.
  2. Pedagogically, prospects for adult literacy per se are not encouraging unless learners are able to utilize their newly acquired skills productively and retain them. To ensure this, there is need to combine literacy with vocational skills programme and employment prospects. This may have a mutually reinforcing effect, it may also increase the level of skills that can be taught and give room for providing a functional context for literacy. Adult learners, therefore, need functionality and mastery of skills relevant to their life.
  3. Insufficient participation of learners in the drawing up of their learning programme may in some cases be an obstacle to learning. It might be necessary to deliberately involve learners in articulating their learning needs and participating in designing the adult literacy programme.
  4. The level of education of the instructors may also be of prime importance. Instructors who are also semiliterate may just frustrate the learners.

Education for Better Living

This is an area in basic education that targets increased acquisition by individuals and families of the knowledge, skills and values required for better living and sound and sustainable developments, made available through all education channels including the mass media. It also includes other forms of modern and traditional communication, and social action, with effectiveness assessed in terms of behavioral change.

The emphasis here is on the use of the mass media and modern channels of communication for educational purposes. Educational activities constituting this component of basic education are often intended to reinforce and complement formal schooling and out –of-school (non-formal) education programmes. They are also intended to reach the general public. Examples could be educational programmes and messages broadcast through radio and television to enhance learning in the classroom, reinforce local HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns, and or aimed to reach people of all ages in their homes. As such, this component covers even newspapers and magazines.

Specific Areas of Concern

Thus the review in this component is expected to examine significant changes since 1990 in the following areas: -

    1. Use of the electronic and print media for educational purposes:
    1. Policy Management and funding
    1. Quality, effectiveness and outcomes

The recommended strategy for data collection and analysis in this component was to try as much as possible to involve persons and institutions involved in these activities (EFA 2000 ATG 1998).

As it may be seen from the foregoing presentation of specific areas of concern, the assessment here asks for a tall order. The constraints, within which the assessment team operated in terms of time, limited personnel, funding limitations and of course the scantiness of data, rendered any hope of a thorough analysis here a far-fetched dream. However, efforts have been made to present what could be practical within the milliard of the limitations.


In school, Out-of School Youth and Teacher In-Set Broadcasts

Educational broadcasting has been the mandate of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) since independence in 1964. School programmes were made in conjunction with the Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) and class time tables distributed to schools all over the country. In the 70s and 80s schools used to have radios and teachers were commitment to follow the schools radio programmes.

In the World Bank Education Sector Credit II (WBESC) covering the second phase of the Government’s Ten-year Education Plan (1985 – 95), introduction of a new primary school radio programme was one of the seven priorities in improving education quality.

At appraisal, the primary school radio programme project contained a provision for improving primary school radio programmes. Technical assistance (12 staff years) was provided for establishing a Primary School Broadcasting Unit (PSBU) and to train Malawian counterparts. The project envisaged a pilot test to test the cost-effectiveness of the programme as well as annual evaluation. Consistent with these provisions, following the result of the pilot test, the government of Malawi concluded that the recurrent cost implications of the programme would be unsustainable if the scheme were to be replicated at a national level. The government, therefore, decided, with the Bank’s concurrence, to drop the component altogether. Project documents provide ample evidence that the government decision’s was appropriate and justified. Credit funds released from this was utilized mainly to finance the preparation and production of primary school textbooks for standards 5 to 8 (World Bank Report 1998).

The obvious factors that might have contributed to the conclusion that the radio programme was unsustainable could include the following:

  1. The increase in number of schools gradually made the Government unable to meet the cost of supplying a radio to each school.
  2. The high teacher-pupil ratio and the consequent class congestion made the use of the radios in schools almost invalid.
  3. Gradually school radios turned into property for either the headmaster's office or his home.
  4. In 1994 with Free Primary Education, Government priority was put outrightly on the supply of basic Teaching and Learning materials like pencils and notebooks and not radios.
  5. However, before all these developments, spot-checks had indicated that schools were not actually tuning in to radio broadcasts due to their own various problems and pedagogical priorities.

Education Broadcasting for the General Public

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s objectives are three folds:.

    1. To inform;
    2. To entertain, and
    3. To educate.

Following these objectives, MBC has since its inception been broadcasting programmes which have aimed at educating the general public.

1990 – 1993

The Assessment Committee has not been able to come up with a consolidated list of educative programmes offered during this period. However, there are important observations made about this period that have to be highlighted viz:

    1. There was only one radio station broadcasting to the nation on medium and short wave.
    2. The Radio Station was dominated by announcements and news bulletins about the activities of the single ruling party.
    3. English and Chichewa remained the only medium of transmission for Programmes, news bulletins and all-important educational announcements. Those other groups who could not understand the two languages were put at a disadvantage.
    4. Strong censorship laws prohibited the production and broadcasting of programmes which would present dissenting philosophies and views from those of the ruling party. Thus programmes on human rights, labor movements and democracy were not allowed.

1993 - 1999

After the people of Malawi voted for a change of system of Government from one party to Multi-party democracy on 14th June1993, MBC changed. The first profound change was that freedom of expression was established. Programmes educating the people on democracy and human rights were organized by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and broadcast by MBC.

After the general elections in May, 1994, the UDF Government introduced four other major languages on – MBC viz. Chiyao, Chitumbuka, Chilomwe and Chisena. Using these languages critical public announcements and education programmes requiring the attention of the rural masses are made in the vernaculars. However, Chichewa still remains the dominant vernacular mode of communication on the radio because it is understood and spoken by the majority of the population. Annex 2 indicates some of the major current educative programmes that MBC Broadcast to the general public and the themes targeted.

Geographical Diffusion of Broadcasts

As discussed in the foregoing section, before 1994 MBC only broadcast to those who could understand Chichewa and English. This meant that those rural areas inhabited by people who could not understand Chichewa, like some remote rural corners of Mangochi, Phalombe, Nsanje and Chitipa, could as well be described as not reached. It is only after the other vernacular languages had been introduced in 1994 that MBC radio broadcasts are actually reaching these corners of the country.

A second factor here is the launching of the Second Radio Station, MBC Radio II broadcasting on FM. This Station is catering principally for the urban population of Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu, with of course extended coverage to some party of the districts neighbouring the four cities. This radio station has given MBC radio the opportunity to concentrate on traditional/rural needs. In addition to the two state radio stations, there are five more private radio stations broadcasting to specific geographical areas. The African bible College Radio in Lilongwe (ABC Radio) broad cast Evangelical programmes to the population of the city of Lilongwe and surrounding areas. In Mangochi, the Women’s’ Voice Radio and St. Martins Radio Stations broadcast to the population of Mangochi especially the Monkey-Bay area. The other radio Station in Blantyre: Radio 101 FM and Capital Radio cover most of the Southern Region districts especially Zomba, Thyolo, Chiradzulu and Mwanza. However, it should be noted that the mandate of these private radio stations has been limited to entertainment, commercials and evangelism.

Television Malawi was just inaugurated in 1997 and its coverage is basically confined to the urban areas of Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu

Public Service Announcements through Radio and Television

There are quite a lot of these announcements made through the radio. Unlike in the period before 1993, today there is more freedom and flexibility on the broadcast of these announcements. The announcements are also be made in the five major vernacular plus English so as to ensure that all Malawians will get and understand them. However, the print media, especially sections sympathetic with the opposition parties accuse the state radios and Television Malawi of bias towards the ruling party.

Newspapers and Magazines

The Print Media has also followed similar developmental trends to those of the electronic media. In 1990 there were only three newspapers: "Daily Times," Malawi News" and "Boma Lathu ". Of the three, the one that talked more on educational developments, of course with an aim of boosting the image of the ruling party, was "Boma Lathu." This is because the main objective of the paper was to inform people about what the Government was doing for them in all sectors, education inclusive. "Boma Lathu" is still in circulation with almost the same objective but now for the new Government. The problem with this paper right across the two Governments former and incumbent is that there is more likelihood that news is biased towards boosting the image of the Government. In such cases truth may often be compromised.

In the multiparty era, freedom of expression resulted in the mushrooming of various other newspapers, some of which are now defunct. The major newspapers however, have remained to be:

  1. The Nation (Pro-government);
  2. Weekend Nation
  3. Malawi News (opposition);
  4. Daily times (opposition);
  5. Weekly News (pro government);
  6. U.D.F. News (U.D.F Propaganda)
  7. Times

The major and popular magazines have remained the catholic published "Moni" and "The Lamp". Annex 3 gives an outline of the major newspapers and magazines in Malawi and what they offer to the public.

Libraries, Museums and Book Fairs

The use of museums and book fairs, as a resource in basic education seems to be still a strange innovation in Malawi. There are four major museums in Malawi. One is in Blantyre the second one is in Mangoch (Lake Malawi Museum), the third in Zomba rural –Mikuyu and the fourth one is in Mzuzu. If there are any groups of students and teachers using museums as teaching and learning a resource then it should be primary school pupils in the urban areas. For example, the museum in Mzuzu organises weekly cultural lessons where students especially those from secondary schools are taught the now extinct Ngoni language. Otherwise the idea of using a museum for any formal education purposes is still a luxury not explored by the schools but may be confined to the few highly educated and urbanized individuals and families.

In the period before Free Primary Education (before 1994) book fares were not heard of because the textbook policy could not allow that. After the change of government, at least one book-fair took place, in (1997) organized by the World Bank and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). Unfortunately, this one only involved conventional secondary schools, a section out of basic education sector. Worse still, it did not involve the general public.

The National Library Service (NLS)

The NLS was established by an Act of Parliament No. 32 in 1967 to promote, establish, manage, operate and develop libraries in Malawi. Since it started its operations in 1968, it has so far opened/established eight full time service points throughout the country in seven districts. It has also established over 696 library centers/units in nurseries, primary and secondary schools and Community Day Secondary Schools and 434 Library centers/units in rural communities throughout the country. There are 265 Rural Community Information Centers established so far.


The Mission of the Malawi National Library Service is to ensure that both rural and urban people in Malawi have access to reading and information materials. These include materials they may require for their professional work, study, leisure, and maintenance of literacy and in support of the creation of an informed society. In so doing, NLS enables people to actively participate in the development of their country.

Core activities

The Core activities of the National Library Service are targeted at children, pupils, students, youths, teachers, parents, researchers and workers.


The National Library Service works to fulfill three main objectives and these are to:

  1. Support the school curriculum;
  2. Maintain and sustain people’s literacy skills and
  3. Promote and facilitate a culture of reading among the people of Malawi

There are mainly six strategies that the NLS uses to try to realize these objectives and these are:

  1. Establish and service library centers/units in primary and secondary schools, Community Day Secondary Schools and densely populated areas including peri-urban centers.
  2. Distribute and stock reading/information materials at access points like District Branch Libraries, library centers/units in primary and secondary schools and Community Day Secondary Schools, Adult Literacy Centers and Rural Community Information Centers and peri-urban centers.
  3. Conduct Reading Campaigns targeted at primary school Pupils, teachers and parents.
  4. Conduct publicity through the Mass media
  5. Make Book donations to various institutions.
  6. Collaborating with Education stakeholder ministries like Ministry of Health, Gender and Agriculture.

Rural Community Information Centers

Rural Community Information Centers were established following the findings of a research carried out in three countries; Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania. The research aimed at finding out sources of information for rural disadvantaged people. The rationale to the research was concomitant to the concern Education for All has over the disadvantaged rural poor; that information is critical to decision making in the rural area.

Convinced by the findings of this research, NLS intensified its rural Communities Services. Today there is in total 434 Rural Community Information Centers in Malawi.

Schools/Colleges Services

In an effort to support the curriculum the NLS is today operating a total of 696 library centers across the education system of Malawi from Pre-School Playgroups to college level.

National Library Service : Essential Skills for The youth and Education for Better Living

In general, the NLS is operating eight library branches offering lending, references and information services. The eight branches have a total of 1130 library centers, 202,690 registered users, 471,608 non-registered clients and 273,354 book loans The southern region has 430 centers comprising 38.05 per cent of the total, followed by the central region which has 374 centers representing 33.09 per cent and then the northern region with 326 centers representing 28.8 per cent The NLS has a total volume of 745,000 books (NLS EFA Workshop Paper, Capital Hotel-Lilongwe, August 1999).

Street Theatre and Social Mobilisation

The most outstanding theatre names in Malawi since 1990 have been the following: Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre, Kwathu Drama Group and the twin comedians IZEKI and Jacob are John Nyanga and Erick Mabedi. There are also radio drama group attached to MBC performing in radio theatre programmes like Pamajiga, Nzeru Nkupangwa, Threatre of the Air and Sewero la Sabata Ino (Weekly pay).

All these theatre groups and categories have been used effectively to disseminate key educative messages to the public be it political, economic, social and cultural.

Of outstanding magnitude is the bona fide job these did in assisting the Girls Attainment in Basic Literacy Education project in sensitizing the whole Malawi nation in the value of girl education in a campaign dabbed GABLE Social Mobilization Campaign (GABLE SMC) in 1995/6. Through this campaign, these theatre groups together with University of Malawi, Chancellor College Travelling Theatre, visited almost all districts in the country performing plays, comedies, jungles and dances which aimed at highlighting the advantages of educating the girl child and ills of discriminating against her. It is partly as a result of this that elsewhere in this assessment it is indicated that primary enrolment in the lake shore districts of Machinga and Mangochi has improved.

The Ministries of Health and Gender to sensitize the public to the importance of child vaccination to vitamin A (1997 and 1999), HIV/Aids Awareness Campaign and Family Planning have used similar campaigns.

However, from the comments made in the print and electronic media, the theatre sector lacks support and national strategies for expansion. With the exception of Izeki and Jacob, the rest of the groups confine their performance to the urban and semi urban middle class and above. It is only these who can afford to pay for such a luxury as theatre where a fee is charged. The rural masses can only afford to watch them when social mobilization campaigns.

Policy, Management and Funding

The assessment has not been able to go into the deep allys of the policy governing educational broadcasting. But what is obvious is that all Government Departments have the liberty to use the state radio stations, the Television and even the privately owned newspapers for publicizing important issues. This applies to the Ministry of Education as well; it being a Government Department.

However, the state radio and television stations operate as parastals aimed at profit making. As such each Governmental Department wishing to use these facilities has to meet the cost from its own monthly funding. Since many Government Departments are already hardly pressed with management of just basic operations due to the cash budget, often than not, they fail to put on the radio, TV, or newspapers some issues which could be best dealt that way in the interest of the public. Education, Gender, Health and Agriculture where basic education rests, are good examples of such departments. This economic scenario has ended putting Government Departments at the mercy of donors. In fact a good number of the education activities that are publicized for some extended periods in the mass media or using the theatre have actually succeeded because a donor or some metropolitan NGO was behind the bill. This includes even programmes: For example, the Straight Talk programme, a programme for the Youth, is sponsored by UNICEF while most of the population education programmes are sponsored by UNFPA.

Quality, Effectiveness and Outcomes

No efforts have been made to go into the official details of education and pedagogical training of MBC/TVM Programme planners. But what is obvious is that the two media bodies usually employ personnel from the teaching profession. This is, therefore, a good starting point for surety of proper planning of educational programmes.

The proliferation of newspapers due to the offered freedom of expression has resulted in the operation of some journalists with little respect for ethics. The common stand of papers representing opposition side, which is in most, negatively critical, compound, the problem further. This, put in the context of Government Departments which are usually unable to broadcast information just for the sake of public information, makes both the Government Departments and Media Organizations reactive instead of being proactive. They are in most cases only forced to release important information when a crisis has made the media misrepresent a situation and similarly the media in most cases publish or broadcast only when they are reacting to something news worthy in the education sector.

This trend of development has led to a relationship of suspicion and distrust between the journalists especially from those privately owned newspapers and education implementers Probably this could be the rationale behind UNDP initiative to train journalists on how to report on and handle education news.

As already indicated in the foregoing sections, some programmes on MBC are organized to solicit listener’s views on general issues education inclusive. Newspapers also carry the readers’ page where readers write to the editor expressing their views on issues of significant public interest. From these two areas of the media, the percentage of teachers and school heads letters and opinions on Media programmes in education are not common .If anything teachers are interested in issues involving their working conditions. Similarly, it would seem the general public is not sensitized enough to think that media programmes on education in general are as equally important as formal primary, secondary and adult literacy classes. They are more likely to respond to what is happening in schools or what pupils/students are doing than how the media programmes are presented. The problem probably lies in the fact that to the majority of the population in Malawi, education is only, that that comes from a school and a classroom-teacher or the Ministry of education. As a result, there has been little if any demand for more broadcasts or articles with education content. Why? The majority of the public is not yet made aware that such a service is essential.

The task of assessing behavioral change in the target audiences as a result of the media education is rather a complex task that requiresroperly formulated checks and balances. This is because there are so many factors and influences at work in the society. Thus any such assessment will assume that all the other factors were dormant and only media education worked.

However, in Malawi, the central causes of peoples’ behavioral trends in terms of better health practices, childcare, family planning, use of public services, participation in social organizations are poverty and illiteracy. As long as poverty and illiteracy remain high, there will be little progress in the task of changing the behavior of the people.

Probably the only areas where one could confidently say there has been some recognizable significant change is that of family planning and child-spacing, use of public services and participation in social organizations.

It has been indicated earlier on in the assessment that Malawi’s population growth has declined from 3.2% in 1987 population Census to 1.9% in the 1998 population census. It has also become evident that people have positively responded to vitamin A vaccination, Free Primary Education, and Girls’ Education.

Non-Governmental Organizations contribution Towards Education For Better Living

Non-Governmental Organizations contribution in this area became pronounced after the general referendum in 1993. The leading NGOs were the Catholic Secretariat, CCAP Blantyre and Livingstonia Synods, Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi, Christian Service Committee, the Christian Council of Malawi and World Vision International.

Civic Education programmes were targeted to the Community and Congregations and Seminars for women groups were also organized. CCM/SCC facilitated a national conference, a regional meeting, and training of trainers workshop to train church leaders who in turn educated the community. The civic education programmes were focussed on the issues of human rights and responsibilities of citizens in Malawi. CSC had developed a curriculum and subject content which included: Social Cultural, Economic and political dimensions of human rights, rights of Labour the child and Child survival, Laws, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Environment and sustainable Development and AIDS awareness.

The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a collaborative effort of CCM, the Catholic Secretariat and MAM educated the public both in 1993 – 4 and in 1998-99 about how to conduct free and fare elections. EVARD AND OXFAM were also doing similar things in their areas of impact. Figure (……….) present the general picture of NGOs contribution in Basic Education.

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