Education Minister Agnes NyaLonje told education stakeholders and development partners on Monday that education is in crisis.
She said recent data from the World Bank shows that 90% of 10-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Malawi, cannot read a simple text or story and understand it. According to the minister, globally, in low- and middle-income countries, 70% of 10-year-olds are in a similar situation.
NyaLonje made the remarks in Lilongwe when she opened a two-day national dialogue on education transformation in Malawi, which was organized by the Ministry of Education in partnership with UNESCO and UNICEF.
The meeting brought together representatives from government, trade unions, youth, the private sector, civil society and traditional and religious leaders, who for two days defined what it means and what it will take to transform education in Malawi.
Delegates are also expected to, among other things, develop a shared vision, commitment and alignment of actions across constituencies to transform education in the country by 2030 and beyond.
NyaLonje said the covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the “disappointing situation” of 10-year-olds as described by World Bank statistics.
“What we know then is that based on this data, education is in crisis. If a child cannot read at age 10, that means their chances of learning are very limited. Their ability to learn has not been developed,” said NyaLonje.
The minister added that it is for this reason that Malawi, along with other countries under the leadership of the United Nations, has joined a dialogue that says “we need to do something about education.”
She said if nothing is done, then the world plunges into an education crisis whose impacts will mostly manifest in 10 to 15 years.
“This means that children who cannot read now will be leaders in 10 to 15 years. What kind of leaders will they be? Could we, for example, count among them engineers, doctors and teachers? ?
“So this national dialogue is very important, because we are discussing what we need to do as a country. We need to take stock in a very serious way, including everyone who matters in the education sector,” said NyaLonje.
In his remarks, the Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Malawi, Ivo Hoefkens, observed that Malawi has strategies to address challenges affecting its education, set out in the National Education Sector Policy. and Malawi Vision 2063, among other relevant documents.
“What is missing is the implementation. The government should also consider increasing funding for education in the national budget. The contribution of development partners to education must also increase.
The government must also prioritize teachers. Their salaries, income and working conditions must guarantee the quality of education, which is absolutely necessary,” said Hoefkens.