January 18, 2021

Ombudsman to have a closer eye on PSLCE selection list

The Office of the Ombudsman will carry on an investigation on how the 2019/20 secondary selection list was done.
This comes after speculations on social Media about the issue where 84,497 were selected to secondary schools while the vast majority that passed, 140 440 can not access secondary education due to lack of secondary school places.

Questions have arisen as to whether the ‘quota system’ remains in operation and this has prompted the Tonse Government to address the concerns with these three immediate actions.

In view of the legal mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman under both the Constitution and the Ombudsman Act, an independent investigation / audit of the 2019/2020 Primary School Leaving Certificate Education examinations and secondary school selection will be carried out by the Office of the Ombudsman.

An independent expert group including leading academics, will be convened to undertake a multi-year analysis of PSLCE examination results to determine the nature, extent and causes of inequities in PSLCE across the country.

A special fund of MK1 billion will be created, as a start, for infrastructure improvements to the Community Day Secondary Schools in greatest need of refurbishment and renovation. Independent audit of the examination and selection process.
The investigation will review in detail the events the processes involved in the examination results and secondary selection process of the 2019/2020 school year.

Chikondi C Mussa, who is the secretary for education said that the Ministry of Education will welcome the Ombudsman’s audit report and respond to it’s findings and also implement it’s recommendations as soon as possible.

Mussa further adds that there will be a multi-year analysis of PSLCE results that’s will reveal the issues affecting the inequities in performance more broadly than just through the selection process and this will be done by the Independent Expert Group.

Mussa acknowledges that the selection process was merit based, but the large variation in performance across the country reflects a deep inequity of resources and service provision available between primary schools, education districts and educational divisions.

The end performance of a primary school child depends on many aspects such as, the quality and adquecy of infrastructural environment provided the quality of teaching, level of teaching and learning materials provided etc.

“The analysis and resultant recommendations of the Independent Expert Group will guide future ministry strategy to improve the equitable delivery of primary school education and the improved transition of students from primary to secondary education,” Mussa explains.

” Special funds for community day secondary School refurbishment in many cases, due to longstanding under investment and many students in rural areas attend community day secondary schools of low quality,” Mussa narrated.

Many school blocks will be constructed using the MK 1 billion special fund that will be national resources solely under the direction of the Malawi government and schools in greatest need will be identified objectively based on a defined criteria.

While the Independent Audit, the Multi-year study and the utilisation of the MK 1 billion special fund are underway, the Ministry will continue to address outstanding capacity gaps that afflict the Education sector. The two major capacity gaps preventing the expansion of access to quality primary and secondary education are lack of appropriate school infrastructure and shortage of professionally qualified teachers.

The Ministry of Education says that a long term objective for national development is that all students should attend a minimum of 12 years of formal schooling and it will be highlighted in the upcoming ‘ Malawi 2063’ to be launched on 19th January 2021 by the state president Dr Lazarus Mc Carthy Chakwera.

Mussa concludes by saying that the mandate of the Ministry of Education is to provide quality education to all children in Malawi and that where politicisation, self interest and maladministration obstacles stand in the way of the ministry of education’s mandate they will work tirelessly to overcome these obstacles.

By Temwa Nyirenda

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