Kondowe welcomes Chakwera’s political commitment on education financing

Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe has welcomed the political commitment on education financing of President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera at the UN Transforming Education Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York, US.

Chakwera pledged to increase funding and sustain allocation to the education sector of at least 15 to 20 percent of national expenditure by 2030.

Benedicto Kondowe

“My government affirms its support for the new Global Compact on Education Financing,” said President Chakwera when he outlined thematic action tracks as commitments within the overarching cost Blended Education Strategy for Transformation.

He added: “This includes increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio by 5 percentage points to 21.4 percent through progressive tax reforms by 2030 and to sustain allocation of at least 15 to 20 percent of national expenditure, and at least 4 to 6 percent of GDP, for domestic financing of education.”

He told the summit that Malawi reconfigured the school calendar to enable learners to catch up on days lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, introduced remedial lessons and intensified back-to-school campaigns for school dropouts.

“We are also set to establish a national ‘Education Radio’ station, as well as a digitalized secondary school curriculum for increased access to education, and now many of our higher education institutions are developing their online education capabilities,” Chakwera said.

The Malawi leader said education will be mandatory from early childhood to secondary level in Malawi to achieve a 100 percent primary and secondary completion rate in a safe learning environment by 2030.

He also said Malawi will construct and adequately equip more secondary schools and teachers’ houses, improve primary school teachers’ welfare and training to a diploma or degree level.

“Malawi commits to scaling up best practice teaching and learning innovations and technologies, with expanded access to digital learning opportunities, including for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Accordingly, educational institutions will be enabled with energy, connectivity and digital skills training,” said President Chakwera.

Chakwera has pleaded with developed nations to put into action the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) calling for properly designed digital education platforms that could revolutionize education and expand opportunities.

“Please put it to good use and remember that it is a programme of action, not a programme of empty talk,” said Chakwera, who is also the chairperson for the LDCs.

“I, therefore, call upon all of you to support us Least Developed Countries in our quest to transform education for meaningful human capital development in LDCs. The time is now,” he said.

Reacting to the news, Kondowe described Chakwera’s commitment as a progressive political commitment, which is aligned to the global benchmark for financing education.

The education expert said he was optimistic that the Malawi leader will match his words with tangible actions on the ground.

“More actions are needed to translate the global commitment to make a difference in the lives of students/ learners. For some time, we have made such statements before and we have failed to live up to our commitment.  In 2018, Malawi made a progressive commitment at the education financing pledging conference, but we failed to live up to the expectation of our commitment,” he said.

Kondowe observed that despite the education sector receiving lion’s share in the national budgets for over four consecutive years, disbursement to the sector has not matched with the budget commitments.

“In 2020/21, the treasury only disbursed 64 percent to education. This means that unless we execute the commitments and national education allocations as approved, the bigger commitments and or allocation will remain ironic.

“Therefore, President Chakwera’s government should move forward to not only allocate a bigger share but also ensure that the same is disbursed to the sector timely. It sounds good if funds are used for the intended purpose. Even now on paper there is more funding for education but its impact can’t be seen. This academic year, accessing ORT in the education sector has been a big problem. For more than 8 months schools have not received their ORT and it is the students who suffer the consequences of such willful and intended omissions,” he said.

The education summit was one of the engagements organized by the UN Secretary General ahead of the official opening of the 77th United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2022.

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