Malawian Education System in Crisis: Where Does The Money Go? Min Joo KANG Poor
education system in rural Malawi, Africa lies at the roof of famine and lack of support from the government. A substantial number of children eager to learn are missing their opportunities to attend school due to inability to pay the school tuition fees. Burdens ranging from extreme poverty to the cost of uniforms are constantly keeping hundreds of children out of class in Malawi. The headmaster, Minster W.M. Phiri of Kachokolo School announced outrageously at the assembly today, "no fees, no school". The fees were over twelve hundred kwacha, collected three times a year. Due to such enormous amount, only twenty remained out of seventy students after a week at the school. Just 14 years old, William Kamkwamba figured the school days were over for good, as his family could not afford his school dues. "I'm dropping out. They don't have the fees". A devastating famine has struck Malawi and brought severe effects to the Kamkwamba family – they have faced the hardship of maintaining crops and especially in paying for William's tuition dues. Emancipated from the deadly starvation and drought that had killed hundreds of his neighbors, William is eventually forced to drop out of school and go back to work on his family's farm for forage of food. Besides the inability of Malawian families to afford tuition fees, the lack of safety and poor circumstances are also notable in the poor education system. William had to walk five kilometers to his secondary school, a forty minutes walk over hills and across the maize fields from his home. The school sat in a valley near the big tobacco estates and the road was filled with mud and insects with a big dam nearby, with the giant diesel tractors tilling the soil. Such terrifying scenes are hardly imaginable at the schools of Western countries. The classrooms at Kachokolo were certainly not a suitable environment for education, either. With the limited facilities and giant holes in the floors due to termites eating away the floor planks, the school is in the urgent need for repair. Such devastating condition
resulted in a student actually falling through the hole, causing a serious injury. Furthermore, William shares his experience at Wimbe Primary school, where the conditions had been even more dreadful. Students were asked to read and study outside under the trees because the classrooms were too full. Even inside the classrooms, the roofs leaked when it rained. The government seems to have sent no money for more desks and the repair. Kachokolo secondary school was especially not a top priority for the government funding. Students also did not have money for schoolbooks, which cost hundreds of kwacha each. Most students could not afford to buy the books, therefore were forced to share their books with their peers. The hunger was another pressing problem at school. Children sat in the classroom with their stomach screaming, willing to go back home to look for food. Such problem has put the students in a situation where they cannot pay attention during the lesson. Their faces got thinner and with no sanitary equipment at home, their skin became grey and dried, covered in ash. It is horrifying to spot such problems in the devastating education system in Malawi – the government is out of interest in funding for education, and an immense number of children are dropping out of school. Urgent support and solution are necessary to provide the children with healthier education environment and keep the students inside the class.