Education in Malawi

By Michael Kachitsa

In Malawi a child starts primary education at the age of five or six, and finishes at the age of 12, 13 or 14 years of age. The classes are from grade one to grade eight. In each grade a child takes an exam as he/she goes from the lower to the higher grade.

The subjects in the primary school curriculum in Malawi consists ofEnglish Language, Chichewa Language, Mathematics, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Social Development, Life Skills, Expressive Arts, and Religious Education. There are extra activities: sports, wild life club, child protection club, quiz club, science club and many more.

In grade eight a child takes a national exams administered by Malawi National Examination Board ( MANEB) which we call Primary Leaving Certificate of Education (PLCS).  Because of limited space in government secondary schools, few students get selected. For example, every year almost 220,000 candidates sit for standard eight exams, of these 190,000 pass, but only 45,000 get selected to go to a government secondary school. Out of 45,000 the number of girls is always very small.

At the age of either 12, 13 or 14 a child starts form one either at government secondary school or private one. At secondary level a child has also to take principal exam from form one up to form four. In form four a child takes national exams which we call Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE). When a child finishes form four, he/she now starts a journey to college/universities.

A measure of success is the SACMEQ, South African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality. Only 9% of children in Malawi reached a minimum standard in English and Maths during the primary school.

The cost of education in Malawi 

A child pays £2 per year for 3 terms go to a Government Primary School. In private schools it is £15 per year.

A child pays £300 per year (3 terms) to go to a Government Secondary School, full boarding. In private schools a child pays £450 per year (3 terms), full boarding.

In government colleges cost £1000 per year and private colleges £1300 per year. A child spends four years at college/university, finishing their education at the age of 20 or 21 years old.

The situation at the Chankhasi Primary School.

The school has a dedicated staff and community support. The student staff ratio is about 60:1. There are 329 children at the school.

Some facts – General Situation in Malawi

  • 12% children die before 5 years old
  • Children aged 5-16 years make up 40% of the population. Of these, 12% are orphans and nearly half the children start school with stunted growth, due to malnutrition.
  • The prevalence of HIV/Aids in adults is 12%
  • Agness Chiweza 11, Standard 5. Wiliro, Karonga going to a family garden(c) Govati Nyirenda

    63% families live on less than £2 per day

  • Only 35% children who start primary school in Malawi complete it.
  • 17% children go to secondary school, mainly boys
  • One child in 2000 in Malawi goes onto higher education
  • The Student Teacher ratio is usually between 80:1 and 100:1

Long term Benefits – as reported by the World Bank and WHO

The more children completing education, even at primary level will benefit the society.

For example:

  • One extra year of schooling increases an individuals earnings by up to 10%: the effect can be double for women
  • Adding one more year of education decreases by at least 10 % the probability of a girl giving birth when she is still a teenager.
  • A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of 5 years, 50% more likely to be immunised and twice as likely to attend school.


Source  – theyoungdarwinian