The UK handed over 158 classrooms, 52 teacher houses powered by solar energy, 21 administration blocks, 312 latrines and 46 urinals and six digital learning centres in 28 of the most remote and disadvantaged primary schools in Malawi.
The symbolic handover took place at Maro Primary School in Karonga, one of the schools that benefited.
At Ngerenge CDSS in the same district another symbolic handover of sanitation infrastructure built by UNICEF through UK Aid support under the Keeping Girls in School programme took place.
Together, the UK and UNICEF have built 3000 latrines and 80 boreholes to improve sanitation in 300 Community Day Secondary Schools as part of a larger programme that aimed to improve the school environment and support structures to help girls stay in school.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is committed to ensuring that each and every child in Malawi has access to inclusive quality education
“Malawi has made great strides in improving access to education over the past twenty years. However, school construction has not kept pace with the overwhelming demand for education. ” said Chris Austin, Interim DFID Country Director “The infrastructure being handed over today is evidence of the UK’s strong commitment to Malawi’s development. In particular, we are keen that UK support to the education system will ensure more children, especially girls, attend school regularly and succeed in their learning. But there remains a lot more to do to provide a quality learning environment for all, and we hope the government continues to prioritise this in the future.”
According to UNICEF Malawi Representative, Johannes Wedening, the only 23% of schools having adequate sanitary facilities, girls’ education suffers heavily from unhygienic or non-existent latrines.
He notes that UK’s investment in the KGIS Programme, is a critical investment for girls.
“Today, children in 300 secondary schools in 15 districts have access to better latrines, and adolescent girls can confidently participate in school without worrying about how to manage their menstruation and personal hygiene in school.” he adds
The Chief Director at the Ministry of Education, Thokozile Banda notes that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is committed to ensuring that each and every child in Malawi has access to inclusive quality education. Good and purposeful infrastructure will go a long way in bringing children to school and more importantly will entice them to stay in school, especially the girl child.
“The ministry will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all schools across the country have necessary infrastructure and other teaching and learning materials so that the quality of teaching and learning is improved. My appreciation to our partners for the timely support and let me call upon more others to join this cause, as the challenges before us are still many.” she said
The UK, through DFID has invested £11 million over the past five years to improve the learning environment and school infrastructure in over 320 primary and secondary schools. The Education Support in Malawi programme was worth £4.7 million. Access to primary education has risen dramatically since the introduction of Free Primary Education in 1994. Almost all children in Malawi enter the first year of primary school (net intake rate of 97% for boys and 98% for girls).
However, school infrastructure construction has not kept pace with the overwhelming demand for education. The average student classroom ration in Malawi is 116 students per classroom. This makes it difficult for teachers to teach and creates a challenging environment for students to learn.