Education gets lion’s share

Government has allocated K172.8 billion to the education sector in the 2019/20 National Budget, up from K142.2 billion in the 2018/19 financial year.

Education analysts have since described the move as a mixed bag, arguing there are no defined priorities for the allocation to the sector.

Delivering the budget in Parliament, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said the money allocated to the sector is a 21.5 percent increase from last year’s allocation, representing 10.3 percent of the total budget pegged at K1.7 trillion.

Part of the money will be used to construct new primary schools

He said: “This is due to increased allocation for public universities and the sector’s development projects. Government will complete the construction of three teacher training colleges for primary school teachers in Mchinji, Rumphi, and Chikwawa and continue the construction of 14 new primary schools in urban centres.”

The minister added that government will construct the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centre of Excellence, continue the construction of the Mombera University in Mzimba, rehabilitate Mzuzu University Library and expand Domasi College of Education, The Polytechnic, Chancellor College and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

But Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director BenedictoKondowe, while commending the allocation to the sector, said government has ignored some priority areas in education such as wages for promoted teachers, housing for teachers and has not said anything on the teachers who graduated and have not been recruited yet.

 “We have noted the provision to construct houses for security agencies. What about the teachers? We have teachers who live in rural areas but have no proper housing. What will government do about them?” he asked.

Meanwhile, the agriculture sector comes second after education, having been allocated K167.0 billion, an increase of 11.3 percent from last year’s K150.0 billion.

Mwanamvekha said this is to support a number of projects such as the Shire Valley Transformation Project-Phase 1 which has been allocated K18.9 billion and the Agriculture Commercialisation Project with an allocation of K13.1 billion.

Surprisingly, government has reduced the allocation to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) to K35.5 billion from K40 billion last year and the number of beneficiaries from 1.5 million last year to 900 000 this year.

But Mwanamvekha said government is not phasing out Fisp, adding: “We are not phasing out Fisp. It is an important programme and we have reduced the numbers based on Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report.”

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