Malawi NGOs slam education system as ‘incompatible’

Malawi’s church based NGOs have slapped the country’s education system saying it is not relevant to the needs of the country because the curricula does not impart survival or entrepreneurial skills among others.

The Catholic Education Commission, the CCAP synod of Livingstonia Education department and the Catholic Mzuzu Diocese Education department unanimously agreed during a public debate held at Mzuzu Hotel on Monday that  Malawi’s educations system needs overhaul to reflect the country’s aspirations and needs.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) organized the debate, the first in a series of four to held throughout Malawi under the theme “Is Malawi’s Education System doing enough shape the future.”

Eunice Kazembe: Minister of Eductaion

Eunice Kazembe: Minister of Eductaion

The NGOs also implored on government to involve various stakeholders before the introduction of new curricula in schools saying the current Primary Curriculum Assessment and Reform (PCAR) is a disservice to education as it pins teachers to desks and not teaching.

“The system makes us concentrate on keeping records up to date so that our superiors are happy. We would want government to involve us in curriculum development,” said Irene Jere one of the teachers.

Last month the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), which is mounting a spirited campaign to have the revised Education Bill of 2010 enacted, also noted that Malawi’s education sector is still governed and guided by the 1962 Education Act which evolved before independence and propagated government’s absolute monopoly.

“The 1962 Act addressed white colour jobs hence not culturally sensitive i.e. cultural integration, new job market requirement, growth in informal sector, lifelong learning. To date, fails to appreciate the evolving context in which education is implemented,” CSEC said in its submission to Parliament.

Catholic Education Commission National Secretary Cleopas Mastara said Malawi’s education has many wastages and failures because the curriculum is not relevant.

“Does teaching our children about Eskimos help at all,” Mastara queried.

He said there was need for the education system to emphasize on self reliance by imparting skills such as cell phone and bicycle repairing for instance.

“At one school in the central region Standard four pupils were taught how to dismantle and a bicycle and they re-construct it. And with the boom of Bicycle taxis in Lilongwe surely such pupils can find something to do if they do not go far with education,” Mastara said.

He said the involvement of communities in the education could revolutionize the system saying issues of tardiness, drop-outs, fundraising and early marriages could be dealt with in partnership.

While CCAP synod of Livingstonia Education Secretary Miriam Gausi said Malawi’s education still have many challenges despite some improvements.

“While access has improved with more schools springing up but the type of schools in most cases is questionable. Many lack teaching and learning facilities such as toilets,” Gausi said.

Catholic Mzuzu Diocese Education Secretary Joseph Chawezi Longwe noted Malawi’s education system is failing to in character building and moral formation which he said were requites for children to be accepted in the job industry.

“We have had almost 20 years of free education where we have witnessed quality declining, drop outs and illiteracy increasing and vandalism the order of the day. Does a Malawian child in this type of education helpful in the future?” Longwe queried.

Minister of Education Eunice Kazembe could not immedietly comment.

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