Project Case Study
Assisting the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Malawi
Developing and implementing a Direct Support to Schools programme
Malawi is still one of the poorest nations in the world, with a GDP per capita in 2008 of only $250. The country was, however, was on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.
To assist in this, in 2008, we were contracted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, with funding from the Department for International Development, to develop and assist in the implementation of a Direct Support to Schools pilot programme.
This programme provided funds to schools directly, for them to spend on what they themselves prioritised, decentralising managerial and financial control from the state. Alongside this, our team supported these schools in improving their accountability to their communities. The programme proved so successful it was continued on a national scale, under Malawi’s National Education Sector Plan.
As part of the same programme, we also conducted a Teacher Needs Assessment. This involved a comprehensive assessment of all public and private institutions for teacher education to determine if supply would meet current and future demand. Surprisingly, the conclusion was that despite pupil to teacher ratios being unacceptably low in the first place, the real problem lay in distribution.
There were almost twice as many teachers to pupils in urban areas (46:1) as in rural areas (86:1), betraying a huge limitation for rural schoolchildren. This led to us making a recommendation to move to a more decentralised and independent system of teacher education that would be able to react more effectively to local demand.