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.




  1. “Malawi – UNICEF Data”. 2021,
  2. “Malawi”. World Bank. 2021,
  3. “Investing in Education to Improve Lives and Create Opportunities in Malawi”. African Development Bank. 2021,
  4. “Malawi’s education sector underfunded”. The Nation. 2021,
  5. “Malawi: Shortage of teachers”. African Development Bank. 2021,
  6. “UNICEF – Malawi”. UNICEF. 2021,
  7. “Education in Malawi”. Global Partnership for Education. 2021,


  1. Bravo for the nice write-up.That’s an Insightful observation. This is a true reflection of what is on the ground. These problems need a holistic approach to be curbed. Government, NGO and all the stakeholders need to take action if the quality of Education in Malawi is to be improved.

  2. This is wonderful, a very deep observation. We need to join hands to save Malawi. Especially schools in typical rural areas.

  3. Great observation. This is exactly what is on the ground ,as a nation we really need to join hands and work together to save our country from this crisis. Together we can ?

  4. Community fundraising should be introduced in rural cdss schools in order to empower communities to fund their community day secondary schools.

    • How can that be done, explain please

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