Norway, UNICEF Assure To Promote Education in Malawi

Ambassador Mikelsen Ambassador Mikelsen - pic by Christopher Sande

The Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Ingrid Mikelsen has expressed worry that despite more children attending early childhood and primary education, a few of them proceed to secondary school.

The ambassador attributes this to various challenges including poverty, early marriages and disasters, saying more needs to be done to encourage communities, mainly parents, to motivate their children, mainly girls to remain in school.

Mikelsen said this is the reason her government bankrolled a $400, 000 to support education in four hard hit cyclone Freddy districts in an effort to assist children to get back to school.

“We are going to distribute education supplies, 38, 000 bags containing notebooks, pens, pencils to support learners from 100 schools in Chikwawa, Nsanje, Phalombe and Mulanje,” said Mikelsen.

On his part, UNICEF Deputy Representative Gerrit Maritz said UNICEF accords very high importance to education as the bedrock of national prosperity and socio-economic advancement.

“Education carries with it the aspirations of countless families for an improved quality of life. As a result, we must all ensure that every girl and boy have a chance to receive high quality education,” said Maritz.

He adds that UNICEF will continue to support Malawi to strengthen equitable quality education.

“Let us foster collaboration and mutual encouragement to ensure that schools are inviting places for learning, with no child left behind.

“We must continue our collaborative efforts to mend and rehabilitate schools’ facilities and aid learners in the journey of recovery from the trauma they endured after being affected by cyclone Freddy,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima has encouraged communities to prioritize and safeguard the education needs of their children.

“Education is key, let us participate in promoting education for the country to achieve vision 2063 of making it an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant,” said minister Kambauwa Wirima.

A16 year old girl, Alinafe Mapolisi and a 15-year-old Christina Biziweki from Kalima primary school in Chikwawa said are happy that they are back in school after being severely hit by the cyclone.

“We dropped out of school because our school materials were washed away and that our parents could not manage to support us after losing everything. We are grateful to UNICEF and the government of Norway for the support,” said the girls.

The sentiments come when cyclone Freddy that killed people and destroyed property in some parts of Malawi early this year aggravated the already existing challenges rocking the education sector in Malawi.

Teachers and learners are still complaining of shortage of classrooms, learning and teaching materials, teachers’ houses, desks among others.

UNICEF Statistics of 2022 indicate that the primary school completion rate in Malawi is around 33 per cent, indicating that two-thirds of the children of primary school completion age did not complete primary education. The differences are notable by various background characteristics.

Further, completion rates decline for junior secondary school to 23 percent, and further drop to 15 per cent for senior secondary level.

The gap between the completion rates of children from the richest and poorest wealth quintiles remains high at all levels of the education system.

In primary, 67 percent of the children from the wealthiest quintile complete their education, compared to only 11 per cent from the poorest quintile, while 43 percent of children from the richest quintile complete senior secondary education, less than 2 percent of children from the poorest quintile do so.

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