Policy and Programs Program and Sector policy
Policy and Programs

Malawi Ministry of Education

While collecting information for this global distance education network, SAIDE held several interviews with organisations in Southern African countries. Impressions of each country were generated to give some introduction to distance education and technology use in the area. Each interview has also been written up separately as a case study.

SAIDE country visits conducted in 1999

Permission granted

Meeting with Mr J.B. Matola (Director: Methods Advisory Services) and Mr J. Chamdimba (Chief Inspector of Schools) 12 July 1999

Structure of the Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture has no department or unit for distance education, hence responsibility for distance education affairs is shared across a number of departments. Since the Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) is a department of the Ministry of Education, much of the discussion about and developments around distance education take place in this institution.

Two other ministries, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Women, Youth and Community Services are also to some extent involved in education. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training is involved in Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET), and is currently in the process of drafting new legislation and policy in this regard. Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) and Early Childhood Development (ECD) fall under the Ministry of Community Services, Women, and Children Affairs. Mr Matola indicated that it may be possible that these two departments are in the process of exploring the possibilities of distance education in their portfolios.

Current DE provision in Malawi and new developments

Currently, according to Mr Matola, there are two dedicated distance education institutions in Malawi. These are:

Aggrey Memorial School - a private college; and

Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE)

The Ministry had also been informed that the University of Malawi and the Domasi College of Education are planning to embark on some form distance education provision. Plans are underway for Domasi College of Education to offer a Diploma in Education for training secondary school teachers through distance education. Mr Matola further indicated that Mzuzu University had expressed interest in offering distance education courses, particularly teacher training programmes. Government regards this as a constructive way of alleviating the shortage of secondary school teachers and of meeting the demand for places in higher education. He indicated that only a very small percentage of students qualifying for entry into higher education is actually able to secure a place.

The Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) and the conversion of DECS into Community day Secondary Schools

The Malawi College of Distance Education opened its doors in 1965 using a correspondence type model for delivering its courses. As postal services in Malawi were, at the time, poorly developed, the turnaround time on assignments tended to be very low. To address this issue, the idea of establishing Distance Education Centres (DECs) was born.

In the last few years, the pass rate of MCDE students had been poor. Mr Chamdimba indicated that as few as three out of a hundred students passed the MSCE examinations. This fact underpinned government’s decision to convert Malawi Distance Education Centres (DECs) into Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSS). The CDSSs will be provided with instructional materials. Government has also undertaken to ensure that, where possible, properly trained and qualified teachers are posted to secondary schools.

Government would like to see the MCDE going back to its original mandate: that of providing schooling opportunities to home-based students

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