An education expert, Limbani Eliya Nsapato, has faulted the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology following its release of a second selection list of pupils to various secondary schools across the country, saying it has disadvantaged the girl child.
Nsapato, who is team leader for Edukans International (Malawi Branch), has since hastened to advise that there is “need” for stakeholders to engage on “our selection policies to make them work for disadvantaged groups.”
Last week, the Ministry of Education announced a selection of 17 831 out of whom 125 have been selected to national secondary schools, 3 105 to conventional secondary schools and 14 381 to community day secondary schools.
A statement signed by the Minister Dr William Susuwele Banda, which Nyasa Times has seen, indicates that the “merit principle” was used in the selection process.
But while Nsapato applauded the Ministry for ensuring the merit principle, he said a closer analysis at regional level shows that only the merit principle has worked “to a big disadvantage of students from the central region in national secondary school selection.”
Said Nsapato: “Analysis shows that out of the 125 students selected 29 students (23.2%) are from the North, 17 ((13.6%) from the centre and 79 (63.2%) from the south.
“The first selection showed that 1893 students were selected comprising 267 (14.1%) from the North, 782 (41.3%) from the centre and 844 (44.5%) from the South. A comparative analysis shows that North has gained by +9.1%, while South has gained by +18.7%, but centre has lost by -27.7%. This would imply that the best winner of merit principle is South while the loser is the centre.
“When the three principles had been applied (merit, proximity, economic) centre had the second highest percentage of those selected.”
Nsapato continued: “In terms of gender, boys selection rate of 56.8% is 13% higher than that of girls (43.2%). This is 13% farther from gender parity in selection. In contrast, the first selection had 50.1% boys and 49.9% girls, which was just 0.8% farther from gender parity, indeed 946 girls were selected versus 947 boys, a difference of only 1.
“This means that the pure merit principle has disadvantaged the girls and have set back the gains made to move towards gender parity.”
Nsapato further added that economically speaking, the merit principle has worked to the great disadvantage of girls from rural areas.
“Data shows that 46% (25 out of 54) of those selected have come from four (30%) out of thirteen districts that have sent girls to national secondary schools. The four are Blantyre city, Zomba city (1), Lilongwe city (7) and Mzuzu city (11).
“On the part of boys 64 of those selected (71) are from three of the eight districts that have sponsored boys to national secondary schools. The districts are Phalombe (42), Mulanje (12) and Chikwawa (6). Urban districts have done poorly in the selection process,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :