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Promoting a Self-reliant Approach to Basic Education Development in Africa Through Research and Dialogue

An investigation into the relationship between selected donor educational inputs and rates of achievement at the basic education level in the South Western Educational Division in Malawi

A research proposal by

Demis Kunje

Dorothy C Khonje

Nellie M Mbano

July, 2005

Introduction

In Malawi, free primary education was introduced in 1994 soon after attaining a democratic government. Enrollments soared from 1.2 million in 1994 to 3.0 million in 1997. This rapid increase in enrollment brought about an unprecedented stress on the existing resources in the sector. Pupil-teacher ratios, pupil-classroom ratios, pupil-text book ratios and most other educational indicators reached unacceptable levels. The quality of education was thus seen as having plummeted while increased access seemed to have been the only gain. In an effort to address the problem MoE recruited about 20,000 temporary teachers and gave them a two week orientation course before sending them into schools. Development partners were sympathetic to the situation and they assisted the government in various ways. Policy documents such as the PIF, the MPRSP, the HIV/AIDS in Education Policy and others have been crafted to direct and support the Free Primary Education effort and the eventual attainment of EFA goals.

In 2004, a decade later gains such as a decrease in the number of untrained teachers, decreasing disparities between boys and girls, increased access and provision of text books are noteworthy. However drop-out rates (15%), completion rates (30%), attendance rates (12%) and pass rates (30%) seem to have remained at unacceptable levels. The system seems little able to keep children in school and the children are not able to reach acceptable levels of literacy and numeracy even when they stay on in school. With efforts by various players to improve the quality of education it is imperative that these are directed in a manner which brings about positive changes. This requires deep insights into how the various efforts or inputs into education sector are being integrated at the school level and how, among various variables, achievement is being affected. In this study inputs to schools will be categorized as infrastructure, community participation, school feeding, in-service training, teaching and learning materials and advisory services. To study how these interact to affect achievement both quantitative and qualitative approaches will be used.

Statement of the problem

Basic education is seen as a necessary condition for development. In addition, it is seen as a right for every child. In Malawi the introduction of free primary education in 1994 resulted in increased enrollments without accompanying improvements in quality. The issue of quality is being addressed in a piecemeal way, in trickles and in an uncoordinated manner. Thus it is not known which inputs or combinations of inputs have impact on the quality of education in general and on achievement in particular in different locations in the country.

Research Questions

This study is going to be guided by the following research questions:

1. What are the relationships between inputs namely infrastructure, in-service, school feeding, teaching and learning materials, community sensitization and advisory services on the one hand and the quality of basic education in terms of levels of pupil achievement on the other hand? 2. What combinations of inputs are associated with pupil achievement in mathematics, Chichewa and English in std 5 and std 7? 3. How are the donor - sponsored inputs in schools utilized to improve the quality of basic education?

To answer these questions the study will take both a quantitative and a qualitative approach to address the problem....
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