Unicef lobbies for increased funding in education

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has lobbied government to increase allocations to early childhood development (ECD) and secondary school education to enable children realise their full potential.

In its proposal to the Malawi Government through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Unicef—which works to save children’s lives and defend their rights—lobbied for the doubling the ECD budget to at about K1.2 billion from K600 million allocation in the 2017/18 financial year in line with cost of basic ECD package and demand for ECD services.

Learners in an ECD class

Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday on its expectations from the  2018/19 National Budget, Unicef Malawi chief of social policy Edward Archibald noted that over half of eligible children in the country are yet to access ECD services, a development he said was making it difficult for them to cope with lessons when they begin primary school.

On secondary education funding, he noted that the number of children that enrols for primary school dwindles as the crop graduates to secondary school.

In presentations made at the briefing, Unicef officials said there were about 2.5 million children in Malawi out of whom only 1.4 million are enrolled for ECD, representing 45 percent of children accessing services.

Noted Archibald: “In 2016, there were only 1 513 secondary schools compared to 5 864 primary schools in Malawi. While over 800 000 enroll in primary school every year, less than 100 000 progress to secondary school, leaving a dropout of 700,000.”

“It [Malawi Government] should also gradually increase the capital budget for the construction of urban and rural secondary schools, especially community day secondary schools [CDSSs], houses for teachers in remotest areas and hostels.”

In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology principal secretary Justin Saidi confirmed the gloomy statistics, saying there were more primary schools than secondary schools in the country, a scenario that may lead many children not to proceed with secondary education due to limited space in available schools.

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