Education in crisis – Minister NyaLonje

Minister of Education, Agnes NyaLonje, on Monday told education stakeholders and development partners that education is in a crisis.

She said recent World Bank data shows 90 percent of 10 year olds in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Malawi, cannot read a simple text or story and understand it. According to the minister, globally, in low and middle income countries, 70 percent of 10 year olds are in a similar situation.

NyaLonje and stakeholders

NyaLonje made the remarks in Lilongwe when she opened a two-day National Dialogue on Transforming Malawi’s Education, which has been organized by the Ministry of Education in partnership with UNESCO and UNICEF.

The meeting has brought together representatives from government, trade unions, the youth, private sector, civil society and traditional and religious leaders, who, for two days, are defining what it means and what it will take to transform education in Malawi.

The delegates are also expected to, among other things, develop a shared vision, commitment and alignment of action across constituencies to transform education in the country between now, up to 2030 and beyond.

NyaLonje said the covid-19 pandemic contributed to the “disappointing situation” of the 10 year olds, as portrayed by the World Bank statistics.

“What we know then is that from that data, education is in a crisis. If a child cannot read at 10 years old, it means their chances of learning are very limited. Their ability to learn has not been developed,” said NyaLonje.

The minister added it is for this reason that Malawi, along other countries under the guidance of the United Nations, have joined a dialogue which says “we must do something about education”.

She said if nothing is done, the World is then plunging in an education crisis whose impacts will mostly manifest 10 to 15 years from now.

“It means the children, who are not able to read now, will be leaders in 10 to 15 years from now. What kind of leaders will they be? Will we, for instance, be able to have engineers, doctors and teachers among them?

“This national dialogue is, therefore, very important, for we are discussing what we should do as a country. We need to take stock in a much serious way, encompassing anyone who matters in the education sector,” NyaLonje said.

In his remarks, Head of Cooperation from the Delegation of the European Union to Malawi, Ivo Hoefkens, observed that Malawi has strategies of addressing challenges affecting her education, laid out in the National Education Sector Policy and Malawi 2063 Vision, among other relevant documents.

“What is lacking, is implementation. The government must also consider increasing funding to education in the national budget. The contribution of development partners to education must also increase.

The government must also prioritize teachers. Their salaries, incomes and labour conditions must guarantee the quality of education, which is very much needed,” Hoefkens said.


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