Educational challenges in Malawi

Written by Ntchindi Theu

Malawi, a hidden gem located in the heart of South-East Africa, is facing a crisis that threatens to rob its future generations of their right to education and a better life. This small state, surrounded by Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, has a population of approximately 19 million people and a complex array of educational challenges that require immediate attention.

Secondary education in Malawi – Photo by the Delegation of the European Union in Malawi.

Background on Malawi

Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeast Africa. Its economy is primarily based on agriculture, with tobacco being the main cash crop. Despite its small size, Malawi is rich in natural resources, including forests, wildlife, and minerals. However, the country faces several challenges, including poverty, food insecurity, poor infrastructures and access to quality education.

The Right to Education: A Distant Dream for Malawi’s Children

Access to education is a fundamental human right, yet in Malawi, this right remains a distant dream for many children. According to data from UNICEF, only 61% of children in the country attend primary school, and the situation only worsens as they progress through the education system. Of the children who attend primary school, just over a third go on to attend secondary school, leaving the majority of Malawi’s children without access to quality education.

Consequences of Lack of Education

Malawi’s lack of education has serious implications for the nation and its future generations. It reduces work opportunities, increases poverty, and keeps people in the cycle of illiteracy. Additionally, a lack of progress and development in the nation might be connected to education.

Lack of Funding

One of the major obstacles to improving education in Malawi is a lack of funding. The education sector is underfunded, and as a result, many schools lack basic facilities such as clean water and sanitation. This not only makes it difficult for children to learn in a safe and healthy environment but also perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as children from disadvantaged backgrounds are unable to access quality education. The World Bank reports that only 4.1% of Malawi’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is allocated to the education sector, making it one of the lowest in the world.

Shortage of Teachers

In addition to the lack of funding, the education sector in Malawi is also facing a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in rural areas of the country. The African Development Bank reports that this shortage has a significant impact on the quality of education because classes are often overcrowded, and teachers are unable to give individual attention to each student. This not only affects the children’s learning but also stunts their future and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. According to data from the Ministry of Education, there is a shortage of over 17,000 teachers in Malawi, with the majority of this shortage being felt in rural areas.

Technology as support for the education system in Malawi – Photo by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Malawi.

Successful Initiatives

Despite these challenges, there have been successful initiatives aimed at improving education in Malawi. For example, organizations such as UNICEF have been working to provide education and training to teachers in rural areas. These efforts have led to improved learning outcomes and better educational opportunities for children in these areas.

However, even though such successful initiatives are taking place, the government, NGOs, and other stakeholders must work together to help address the shortage of qualified teachers, lack of funding, and inadequate infrastructure in the education sector. Additionally, the government needs to prioritize education in its budget and allocate sufficient resources to ensure that all children have access to quality education.

In conclusion, the future of Malawi depends on its ability to provide quality education to its children. Only by investing in education can the country break the cycle of poverty and provide its future generations with a brighter future. Education is a key factor in driving economic growth and social development. It is the duty of all stakeholders to ensure that the right to education is realised for every child in Malawi. By addressing the challenges in the education sector, the country can secure a brighter future for its children and create a foundation for sustained growth and development.




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  2. “Malawi”. World Bank. 2021,
  3. “Investing in Education to Improve Lives and Create Opportunities in Malawi”. African Development Bank. 2021,
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Educational Challenges in Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country located in the south central part of Africa. It has a population of about 18 million according to the world bank. Zambia has one of fastest growing economies in Africa, however, its educational sector faces several of challenges as 60% of the population living below poverty and 40% out of this living in extreme poverty.

Despite the global pandemic, Corona virus, Zambia faces the following problems in its educational sector; lack of qualified teachers, educational materials, financing and lack of adequate school infrastructures. According to Kelly (1992) poverty has stricken the education system in many of African countries, therefore most pupils and teachers are not able to find the basic needs they deserve”. This is true about Zambia, because even though with the existence of the government and organizations to help the welfare of the country, Zambia still needs more interventions to change the current situation in its educational sectors.

Lack of qualified teachers

A large number of teachers at fundamental schools in Zambia in both rural and urban areas are not completely trained or qualified. This affects the quality of the provision of the education framework. The issue is that teachers are not able to teach and cover some topics which they do not fully understand. A case which Hoppock (1966) called academic poisoning where pupils are taught wrong abilities and theories. In regards to this, there is need for teachers to be trained and treat their respective job as professions and not anything else.

Educational Materials

Most schools in Zambia do not have adequate educational materials like books, rulers, maps, charts and many other resources needed for the provision of education to children. According to Carmody (2004), education without resources is like education without a future. In this case, Carmody is alleging that quality and sustainable education cannot continue or be given without any formal documentation or resources to back it up. There is need for educational materials at basic level in many schools in  Zambia . There is a need to improve the procurement of books and other educational materials in order to improve the standard of the Zambian educational system in both rural and urban areas.



Money is the limiting factor for most of the activities in which we are basically found. When it comes to the educational sector, teachers require salaries and compensation. According to research, there had been a number of strikes made by educators in the teaching profession in trying to request money and complaints on salary delays. These strikes directly affect the provision of the education system in Zambia . Therefore, finances are one of the biggest factors to be paid attention to.

Lack of adequate school infrastructures

A great problem for most people in Zambia is the lack of adequate school infrastructures. Numerous children in Zambia are not able to go to school because they are discouraged by the distance they have to walk to and from their school. Due to this problem some parents fear to send their children of young age to school especially the female pupils. The government and various organizations have taken part in building schools in the country, however there is still a need for more intervention.


It is important that all stakeholders work with the Zambian government to make resources available. Student centered learning approach through improved teacher training courses should be provided to teachers. Lastly, governments, donors, organizations and all stakeholders need to work collaboratively to improve the educational sectors.

Written by Ntchindi Theu


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Kelly, M.J. (1999). Origin and Development of Education in Zambia , Lusaka : Image Publishers Limited. – Cover photo source

Carmody, B. (2004). Evolution of education in Zambia . Lusaka : Book world.

Hoppock, R. 1966. What is the real problem? America : educationalists Press