Primary schools in Malawi are often a forgotten problem. Although primary schools are generally free and open to all children, the government is not able to fund schools adequately. Over-crowding is universal with student-teacher ratios frequently at 150:1. Students do not have pencils, papers, books or other items essential to learning. Many times there is not even a desk on which to sit. Not surprisingly, low quality education in primary school decreases a child’s chance of attending secondary school. MCF has started the Schools Helping Schools Program to help the primary school situation.
Local communities and parents understand the importance of quality primary schools. For many children, this is the only education they will have and, for those who hope to attend secondary school, a good primary school education is crucial. Most primary schools are taught in Chichewa which limits a child’s chances as they move into secondary school. Secondary school is taught in English, which is the country’s official language. Many students who make it into secondary school struggle due to poor English language skills.
MCF currently supports a small group of primary school students who attend private schools taught in English. We hope that this may lead to better outcomes for those children once they attend secondary school. We are monitoring the results to see what impact it makes.