CSEC says education budget inadequate, engages parliamentarians

Vocal CSO group, the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), has said the MK638 billion allocated to the education sector is inadequate for it falls short of the international commitments of allocating at least six percent of GDP and 20 percent of the national budget to education.

The coalition has added that the allocation, the largest in the proposed 2023/2024 national budget, also falls short of the expectations of implementation of the National Education Sector Investment Plan (NESIP).

CSEC Board Chairperson, Dr. Limbani Nsapato, made the sentiments during an engagement meeting with members of the Parliamentary Education Committee on Monday in Lilongwe, among other stakeholders

Nsapato said the average allocation for education for 2023/2024 in NESIP is MK850 billion, meaning there is a deficit of MK200 billion.

“That is why the engagement meeting, aimed at informing Members of Parliament of our own analysis of the education budget, was important. We wanted them to know the gaps and recommendations we have before they pass the budget.

“Our role is to do advocacy. And one of the areas of advocacy is around the budget. The engagement with MPs was, therefore, important for they debate and pass the budget,” Nsapato said.

CSEC, according to Nsapato, is also worried with meagre allocations to Special Needs Education (SNE), bursaries for needy students and teaching and learning materials, among other subsectors.

The CSEC analysis says the MK638 billion allocation is actually 4.2 percent of GDP. It adds that the allocation is 16 percent of the national budget and “barely conforms to the 15 to 20 percent UNESCO target needed to be moving towards the 20 percent threshold”.

The analysis notes that the department of SNE is allocated MK97 million (up from MK77 million last year) for ORT. Montfort SNE College, on the other hand, has MK425 million allocation (up from MK400 million last year).

However, CSEC says the increase on the SNE college is inadequate to accommodate meaningful enrollment of SNE teachers.

The analysis trashes the eight percent salary increase for civil servants—including teachers—saying it actually means less than MK15,000 increment for most teachers, which “is not sufficient considering the projected 25 percent inflation”.

CSEC further notes that the government is delaying the construction of girls’ hostels in schools—allocated MK1 billion in the 2023/2024 budget—adding that “the resources for the project were actually cut by 95 percent in the middle of the 2022/2023 financial year”.

Vice Chairperson for the Parliamentary Education Committee, Ephraim Nayeja, said the committee is equally concerned with the gaps highlighted by CSEC, adding it will lobby for increased budgetary support, more especially to bursaries for needy students.

Forum for African Women Educationalists–Malawi (FAWEMA) Program Manager, Mphatso Kapalamula, called for speedy construction of girls’ hostels, saying “Malawi needs at least a hostel at every school to accommodate girls in order to increase their chances of furthering their education”.

CSEC did the budget analysis and held the engagement meeting in partnership with Oxfam Malawi, GAYO, Rays of Hope and FAWEMA, among other partners.

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