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Education in Malawi - An Overview

The republic of Malawi is a hugely populated nation in South African continent. The countries that border Malawi are Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the north and Mozambique to the east, south and west. The origin of the name Malaŵi remains unclear; it is held to be either derived from that of southern tribes, or noting the "glitter of the sun rising across the lake".

Education system in Malawi is based on 8-4-4 models, i.e. 8 years of primary school, 4 years of secondary school and 4 years of University education. Only limited options are available for Pre School. The education system in Malawi has many challenges including access, equity, quality and internal efficiency.

Children in Malawi start attending school when they are six years old. Primary education is provided free of cost. Children joins primary schools for 8 years, this marks the beginning of education in a child’s life. At the end of 8 year of primary school children write Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination.  These are jointly set, conducted and marked by the Ministry of Education and the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB).  Students have to pass and get selected if they are to attend secondary school education in a government secondary school.

Secondary Education in Malawi takes 4 years to complete, i.e. from Form 1 to Form 4. Secondary education is provided by both Government as well as privately administered schools. Attending private schools is costly as these schools charge fees almost 50 times more than the government run schools. Mainly children from upper social strata attend these private schools.

In secondary school students appear for two examinations, a Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) at Form 2 and a Malawi School Certificate Examination (MSCE) at Form 4. Both JCE and MCSE are set by MANEB and jointly administered by MANEB and the Ministry of Education.  Selection takes place at Form 4 to various colleges including vocational colleges, technical colleges and universities.

A few private high schools are available mostly in Kasungu, Blantyre and Lilongwe that run British style A-Level courses and examinations. However, education in these schools is expensive and not under the reach of common man.

Post Secondary education in Malawi is available at Non University Level Education and University Level Education.

Non University level education is offered through technical and training colleges. These college offers training in vocations like Forestry, Marine Science, Social Welfare and Hotel Management, etc. The course duration may vary from 6 months to 4 years after which certificate is awarded.

University level education is offered through university / colleges. The first stage of college / university education is Bachelor’s degree, then Master’s degree and then Doctor’s degree. Malawi also has institutes for training of primary and secondary school teachers.

Distance Education in Malawi

The Education for Development Survey Report recommended for the introduction of distance education in Malawi, so as to provide education to those left behind school. As a result various distance education / correspondence education programs started at various levels. In 1965, Malawi College of Distance Education was established. Education is offered through three modes – face to face interaction, printed study material, radio programmes. The use of computers, multimedia CDSs and internet etc is also encouraged in providing education through distance mode.

UNESCO-COL Chair in Open and Distance Learning established in 2006 at Mzuzu University, Mzuzu (Malawi). The Chair will serve as a means of facilitating collaboration between high-level, internationally recognized researchers and teaching staff and other institutions in other regions of the world.
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