Adult Literacy Policy to be ready by 2019: Malawi gets support from DVV International

Malawi government, with support from DVV International, is about to finalise the development of a National Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning Policy which is expected to guide implementation of adult literacy programmes in the country once operational next year (2019).

DVV International Regional Director for Southern Africa, David Harrington
Coltilda Sawasawa addressing a adult literacy policy consultative meeting

The National Adult Literacy Programme has been operating without a policy specific to the education sub sector since it was launched in the country in the 1980s.

DVV International Regional Director for Southern Africa, David Harrington, assured Adult Literacy stakeholders at a consultative meeting held in Lilongwe Thursday that with his organisation’s support, the draft policy would soon be finalised.

He said despite adult education’s role being recognised as key to development across all sectors, it is globally one of the most overlooked and underfunded sub sectors of education.

“This process of policy development that we are participating in here today is an essential step in ensuring that Malawi will have a well-funded, robust and efficient system for adult education,” Harrington told delegates in his opening remarks.

The delegates were expected to give final inputs to the National Literacy and Lifelong Learning draft policy before it is presented to OPC.

“A policy is not just a document that emanates from within some government department. It is a living document that belongs to all citizens,” he stated, urging participants to ensure that the policy document that would come out should truly be representative of the views of Malawian citizens and one that responds to the learning needs of all adult learners.

The delegates, however, learnt that the policy has been in draft form for 15 years, a development they said necessitated speeding up the process of the policy formulation so that it is in operation by next year (2019).

When finalised, the policy will assist in adult literacy revenue mobilization and improve monitoring of adult literacy programs, according to the Director of Community Development in the Ministry of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Clotilda Sawasawa who also represented the Principal Secretary as guest of honour to the consultative meeting.

In her official opening address, Sawasawa said her ministry felt it necessary to have a national policy on non-formal learning to help in its programming, coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders in the country.

She said the policy would assist in implementing the National Adult Literacy Programme in resource mobilization, governance and also enhancing capacity at all levels of its implementation.

“It will provide a more systematic staff development and improve program supervision and monitoring as it has outlined clear guidelines and benchmarks,” she stated.

Asked on what guiding documents the ministry has been using to implement adult literacy programmes in absence of a policy, Sawasawa cited National Development Goals, Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, Poverty Reduction Strategy and Millenium Development Goals as some of the guiding tools for the running of adult literacy programs.

The director also attributed the delay of the policy formulation process to inadequate resources to finalise it and change of format of the policies which, she said, slowed down the process as some elements emanating from emerging issues of the modern times needed to be incorporated.

Malawi as a country started implementing adult literacy programs, under which were the popular Kwacha schools, in the 1980s. However, the programs were running without a policy directly related to the education sub sector.

Once the policy is ready, it will be operational for five years from next year (2019) before being subjected to review, according to an official from the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Mhlaso Jere.

Delegates to the consultative meeting were drawn from different government departments, civil society organizations and non- governmental organisations.

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