By: Vincent Guide
The Civil Society Education Coalition( CSEC), in August, this year, made a recommendation to the Malawi Government the need to review education development financing mechanism for additional funding strategy that would be achievable and sustainable in schools.
The recommendations were contained in a study which CSEC Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe presented in Lilongwe which revealed that primary school education which is free is not for free in Malawi.
Concuring with the statement, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Bright Nsaka, speaking at Namalasa primary school in Machinga in August this year, advised primary school authorities in the country to allow children without uniform attend classes although government values the important role school uniform plays in fostering good quality education standards.
Nsaka urged teachers to allow children from ultra_poor families to learn without putting on school uniform saying children whose parents and guardians cannot afford to buy school uniform should not be barred from accessing education.
A snap survey conducted in some schools is revealing that some schools are organising smart dressing and casual days in a bid to raise money for their school needs and this again ends up in covering up some arrears which schools had for the running of Teacher Development Centres( TDC).
It has also been observed that in some schools, learners are not contributing to supporting TDCs while in others, it is compulsory, a development which lacks transparency and accountability.
At one of the previous Dowa District executive council meeting held at the boma, the district’s Director of Primary Education( DOPE), Joseph Chafukira, said whatever activities schools have lined up as part of fundraising, the office of the District Education Manager( DEM), must’ve informed for the office to assess the importance of holding such a fundraising activity.
” It is advisable that the office of Education must be informed and if this is happening, the office is not aware, may be it’s the arrangements of the schools”, he said.
Chafukira, reminded parents, guardians, teachers and school management committees that the responsibility of paying school development fund and others is for the parent of the learner and he/ she should not be punished by being denied access to education.
” If at all there will be punish, let it go to the parent and not a learner”,he emphasised.
He assured the Dec meeting that all heads of schools in the district were communicated on this that learners from ultra_poor families cannot afford to pay development fund and others, hence they should be allowed to learn in class without hindrances.
During the meeting, it was also revealed that development partners do provide funds for running small projects in schools such as School Improvement Grant(SIG), Zonal Improvement Grant( ZIG) and District Improvement Grant( DIG) which most of the teachers are not aware of the existence of these funds.
According to the minutes which were presented to the Dowa District Council at its July,2018 sitting, all TDCs of the district were provided with K500,000 each as SIG allocations in support to Primary Education Advisors( PEA)