Primary school children eating porridge before school
Primary school children eating porridge before school. Picture by Michael Tembo

Recent surveys have ranked Malawi’s literacy amongst primary school learners as one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. This makes Malawi one of the least developed countries in the world without enough classrooms, qualified teachers and teaching resources. Without dramatic improvement in education living conditions and livelihoods will not improve.

Here are the numbers…

  1. In 1994 primary schools in Malawi were made free to all.
  2. 35 percent of children in Malawi complete primary school. Many, especially girls, drop out of school due to employment responsibilities at home or illnesses.
  3. 1 Teacher to 130 pupils is the teacher pupil ratio in first grade. Malawi has the worst teacher shortages. Classroom overcrowding is one of the main causes of high dropout rates.
  4. 83% of Standard 1 pupils fail to read a single syllable.
  5. 92% of Standard 1 pupils fail to read. 44% of preschoolers face undernourishment in Malawi and the majority of teachers work for free without the necessary resources needed to teach the young children. Without the correct preschool education the foundation for future education is lost.
  6. 4.6 million students enrolled in schools throughout Malawi with only  8% completing secondary school.
  7. 14.9 % of adult females obtain a secondary school education.
  8. 24.2 percent of males obtain a secondary school education.
  9. USAID also provides support to the education sector in Malawi by collaborating with the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. The United States’ efforts focus on increasing educational opportunities for females as well as boosting the capacity and quality of education in the country.
  10. 9 Education programs are provided by USAID supporting the improvement of education.
  11. 40% of public education expenditure is provided by donors, however this is on the decline.
  12. 18% of the national budget has over the past 5 years been committed to education sector.


Corinne Dupont

Married to an African, both of my children born in Africa, travelled extensively through Africa.. my soul is part of Africa. I write to inform, I write to make change, I write to educate.. I write in French, Spanish and English.


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