If you try to count the number of children in this second grade classroom at Muzu Primary School in Malawi, you’ll find more than 100. Classrooms “under the tree” are common, because most schools don’t have enough indoor space.
Since Malawi adopted a free primary education law in 1994, the number of children enrolled in school has skyrocketed, but the education system has not been able to keep up. Malawi needs more classrooms, more schools, more textbooks, and more teachers.
About 45% of the country’s population is below 15 years old. Malawi’s population growth rate of 3% is one of the highest in the world. This puts a lot of pressure on the education system, with class sizes routinely above 100 students, especially in the lower grades.
The recently approved GPE grant for US$44.9 million, which the President of Malawi announced with GPE’s CEO Alice Albright earlier this week in Lilongwe, will support the government’s efforts to improve the quality of education, in particular in eight of the most disadvantaged districts. This will include giving performance-based grants to 800 schools to promote innovation in reducing drop-outs and repetition rates, and retain girls. In addition, the funds will be used to build 500 new classrooms.
The children of Malawi are clearly eager to go to school and learn. Let’s give them the right tools to do so.