May 5, 2005

World Bank approves grant to support education sector

The World Bank has announced a US $32.2 million programme to boost Malawi's education sector. Dr Michael Mambo, the World Bank education specialist for Malawi and Zambia, announced that the programme should start "sometime in July", and run for five years.
The Education Sector Support programme "aims to enhance education quality by improving the conditions and processes of teaching and learning at the school level. It will also help increase the number of qualified teachers, improve the capacity and the quality of education service delivery by fostering community participation, and strengthen the management of human and financial resources at district and primary school levels," the Bank said in a statement. "The grant is basically for constructing a teachers' college, and refurbishing or rehabilitating four secondary schools in the three provinces. It will also provide school health nutrition packages for all primary schools in Malawi," Mambo noted.

A further aim of the programme was "to provide money directly to the schools, to spend on items such as chalk; the basics that they don't get, normally", Mambo added. The World Bank also wants Malawi to review its current education policies. "The other component is to do with policy reforms, which we want the government to look at - the higher education policies, language policies, teacher deployment policy. They don't have a language policy to start with; teacher deployment is skewed toward the urban areas, to the detriment of rural areas; and in higher education too much money is spent on non-core activities - like feeding and housing of students," Mambo commented.

According to the Bank, the bulk of its grant, $15.5 million, will be spent on "teacher capacity development [that] will complement government and donors' efforts to improve quality, and expand the capacity of teacher development and training at all levels". Improving the condition of selected secondary schools, staffed with trained teachers or newly trained teachers, will take up $3.7 million. A third component of the programme, "Direct Support to Primary Schools", will also receive $3.7 million for basic learning materials, "while strengthening the participation of communities in school management". Nutritional support and health packages to primary schools will cost $3 million, including the distribution of vitamin A and iron-folic acids to schoolchildren under 10 years of age, and de-worming, malaria and fever treatments. An allocation of $1.4 million will go towards the development of a "medium- to long-term prioritised and costed education sector strategic plan", the Bank said. "This will form the base for a future sector-wide approach programme ... and capacity building plan for training Ministry of Education staff at central and decentralised levels". (Rts)

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