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close this bookThe Costs and Financing of Teacher Education in Malawi (CIE, 2000, 57 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentMulti-Site Teacher Education Research Project (MUSTER)
View the documentAbstract
View the document1. Overview of National Issues
View the document2. Recent Development of the Teacher Education System
View the document3. Current Status of Colleges
View the document4. The System of College Funding and Sources of Costs in Colleges
Open this folder and view contents5. Internal Efficiency of the Colleges
View the document6. Selection, Admission and Placement of Untrained Teachers
View the document7. Analysis of Teacher Supply and Demand
View the document8. Cost per Trainee Analysis
View the document9. Postscript on Recent Developments
View the document10. Conclusions
View the documentReferences

1. Overview of National Issues

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa with a GNP per capita of $US 170 in 1995 (750 $PPP). Adult illiteracy is estimated at 44% and is much greater amongst women than men (58% - 28%). Child mortality is amongst the highest in the world (234/1000 for children under 5 years). Malawi has a population of somewhat less than 10 million. Population growth was in excess of 3% but is now believed to have fallen to 2% or less. Over 45% of the population is under 15 years old. Most of the population is rural (85%) and is agriculturally dependent.

Historically Malawi has had some of the lowest enrolment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Gross enrolment rates averaged about 65% in the early 1990s and repeaters occupied 15-20% of all primary school places. It appears that more than 20% of grade 1 pupils drop-out before reaching grade 2. The number of pupils enrolled in grade 8, the end of the primary system, is currently about 17% of the number enrolled in grade 1, giving some idea of the magnitude of the attrition resulting from drop-out. Over the last two decades the transition rate into secondary schools from primary has rarely exceeded 10%. In 1996 about 120,000 pupils were in the final grade of primary schools and were competing for about 8000 new places in government secondary schools. Correcting this for repeaters gives a nominal transition rate of about 9%1. The secondary gross enrolment rate was estimated at about 4% in 1985 and had only reached 6% by 1995 (UNESCO 1998:141).

1 Excluding those enrolling in the Malawi College of Distance Education (now becoming the Community Day School System).

In 1994 the Malawi government adopted a policy of Free Primary Education designed to universalise access. This has resulted in a massive increase in the number of primary students - from about 1.9 million to about 3 million. Consequentially the proportion of the national education budget allocated to support primary schools has increased substantially. This has placed severe constraints on the financing of the primary school system and has generated a massive demand for increased teacher training.

Structurally, Malawi's school system consists of eight years of primary schooling followed by four years of secondary. In principle all children are eligible for free primary schooling provided through more than 3,700 primary schools. Progress through primary schools is determined by school promotion tests. In most grades repetition exceeds 15% and can be as high as 25%. Selection into secondary school is determined by the Malawi Primary School Leaving Examination. This allows less than 10% of those who sit to obtain secondary school places. Most enrolment is in government or grant-aided secondary schools (44,000). Over 100,000 are enrolled in Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) schools, which are largely supported by fee payments. These schools have been renamed Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSS). At the end of secondary the Malawi School Certificate examination controls access to post-school education and training. About 35% of pupils reaching this level pass these examinations in government schools but only 8% from Distance Education Centres. About 1,000 students per year are admitted into university level courses in the University of Malawi.

Primary school enrolments increased from about 900,000 in 1984 to about 1.9 million in 1994. After the introduction of free primary education (FPE) in 1994 primary school enrolments peaked at 3.2 million in 1994/5. Subsequently enrolments fell back to 2.9 million in 1995/6 and have now fallen to about 2.8 million (1999). Much of the expanded enrolment has been in grade 1 which increased from about 500,000 to over 1 million in the first year of implementation of FPE. In 1995/6 there were about 49,000 primary teachers in Malawi of whom many were unqualified. About 18,000 new unqualified primary teachers have been recruited - an increase in the total number of primary teachers by as much as 40% - to meet the demand for new teachers. These teachers are being paid at rates below those for fully qualified teachers (until they qualify). Nevertheless the budgetary impact of their salaries is substantial. The growth of primary school enrolments is shown below in Figure 1.

In 1985 Malawi allocated about 3.5% of its GNP to education. By 1997 this had risen to over 5%. The proportion of the public recurrent expenditure budget allocated to education has grown from about 11% in 1989 to 27% in 1994/5 and was projected at over 30% for 1998. Within these amounts primary education has seen its share increase from about 45% in 1990 to around 70% in 1994. The effects of the recent emphasis on primary schools are evident. Currently (1998) about 66% of the total recurrent budget is allocated to primary and over half the capital budget (Figure 2).


Figure 1: Primary Enrolments by Year


Figure 2: Recurrent Allocation to Education - % of Total

The allocations for Teacher Training cover the costs of the College training system. Currently this is fully engaged in providing training for the new groups of teachers recruited to meet the demand created by FPE. The Malawi Integrated In-service Teacher Education Project (MIITEP) provides short residential periods of training coupled with in-service support. Public expenditure on the TTCs includes a secondary teacher training College and excludes domestic and donor-supported costs outside the Colleges. Total allocation to the TTCs has fallen as a percentage of the total recurrent budget since 1990.

The chart also shows that allocations to the university are consistently more than those made for the secondary school system. Typically twice as much has been allocated to the university than to the secondary schools in most recent years.

Unit costs at different levels of the education system are shown below (Table 1)2.

2 Source: Ministry of Education with thanks to McPherson Jere and Mike Kiernan

Table 1: Unit Costs in MK in Current and Constant (1991) Prices

Current


89

90

91

92

93

94

95

96

97

98

Primary

30

39

39

37

70

84

81

195

244

344

Secondary

345

425

435

441

592

706

828

1315

1506


TTC

1573

1886

1432

1880

2119

3178

5547

10510

5200


University

5920

6690

6476

7318

11199

14990

22622

42793

42915


Constant


89

90

91

92

93

94

95

96

97

98

Primary

40

43

39

33

52

49

32

45

43

56

Secondary

458

472

435

387

436

410

321

307

263


TTC

2086

2093

1432

1650

1559

1846

2153

2452

907


University

7853

7423

6476

6424

8242

8708

8782

9984

7484


From Table 1 it can be seen that real unit costs have remained fairly constant in real terms at primary and have fallen at secondary. University unit costs have remained well over 100 times greater than those at primary. The unit cost of trainees in teacher training Colleges has varied as the system of training teachers has changed. Since this has involved changes in the length of training and the form of its delivery direct comparisons between years are not simple. Most recently the drop in real unit cost in 1997 reflects the introduction of the MIITEP training system. This annual unit cost applies to a programme that lasts for two years to produce a qualified teacher. It only reflects the costs of College-based work, not those of the field support system and therefore under estimates total costs per student.

The Policy and Investment Framework (PIF) provides details of educational policy commitments which relate to primary schools and teacher education. Inter alia from 1997 this has indicated commitments to:

- A pupil-teacher ratio of 60:1 across the primary school system to be achieved through MIITEP training of approximately 20,000 teachers

- A teaching classroom size of 60 pupils per class

- A substantial increase in secondary school places to achieve a transition rate of 30% into Form 1 and a planned increase of 6,000 secondary teachers by 2005 working in an integrated secondary school system.

- Upgrading of College of Education staff to degree level to improve the quality of learning and teaching in Colleges

- Decentralisation of education delivery services including those related to in-service support of new teachers.

Some of the implications of these commitments are explored later in this analysis.