Secretary for Education, Chikondano Mussa has defended President Dr Lazarus Chakwera’s decision to attend the 2021 Global Education Summit (GES) in London, UK, saying the summit will reinforce Malawi’s efforts in ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
Mussa’s justification comes at a time when some quarters, including civil society organisations have been asking the Malawi leader not to travel to London, but rather attend the Summit virtually to save public resources.
Chakwera is expected to leave the country on Sunday for the Summit, which will be co-hosted in London by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta from 28 to 29 July 2021.
For instance, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), claimed that there is executive impunity, arrogance, looting, plunder, abuse, and outright theft of public funds, when most essential services are literally collapsing, and the cost of living is increasingly going beyond reach of the majority.
“It is against this background that CDEDI is challenging President Chakwera to cancel the UK trip, now that Malawians have uncovered the shameful scheme of an attempt to dupe the citizenry. On the other hand, we would like to implore all Malawians to wake up from their deep slumber and stand up against this executive impunity.
“The President must be forced to cancel the UK trip, or else, let us all go and join him on the trip at airport. A stitch in time, as they say, saves nine (Amalawi, muvi woyang’anira, suchedwa kulowa m’maso),” said Sylvester Namiwa, CDEDI Executive Director.
But Mussa claims in a statement that central feature of the summit will be the ambitious pledges from donors to help the financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to reach its target of at least $5 billion over 5 years, along with commitments from GPE partner countries on domestic financing for education.
Mussa says during the summit, Chakwera will, among others, pronounce Malawi’s domestic financing commitment to the education sector with over 20% of public expenditure excluding debt being allocated to the education sector.
“The Global Education Summit will benefit Malawi in leveraging International Education Grants that will support basic education.
“Due to the economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative for Malawi to keep an optimal level of education financing, and the Summit provides such a prospect,” asserts Mussa.
The statement claims the GPE aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries to dramatically increase the number of children who are in school and learning.
“The GPE is particularly important in
driving spending on basic education. The UK is currently the largest bilateral
donor to the GPE.
According to her, Malawi has been a recipient of GPE funding since 2010 (US$ 90million Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund in 2010-2014; US$ 44.5million 2016-2020, Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project; and US$10million grant, Accelerated funding on COVID-19 Response May 2020 to November 2021), Malawi is in the process of applying for new funding (US$ 57 million from GPE of which US$ 48.7 million has already been approved by the GPE Board) for the Malawi Education Reform Programme (2021-2025).
She also says the GPE support has also enabled Malawi to improve in Pupil Teacher Ratio in the lower grades of standards 1 and 2 by 35%.
Other achievements include increased number of teaching personnel, reduction in repetition rates in standards 1 to 4 by 9.7% due to improved foundational skills for learners in early, decongestion of large class sizes through construction of 4,781 classrooms and increase in the number of teaching personnel through training and recruitment of 23,550 teachers through Open and Distance Learning.
“Broadly, the main objectives of the London Global Education Summit are to: fundraise US$5 billion for GPE, to which Malawi is a beneficiary country; and confirm commitments from developing countries to protect pre-COVID levels of
domestic expenditure on education, and work towards allocating 20% of
national expenditure to education.
“The President is going to make this pledge in line with the projected Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) of the economy,” claims Mussa.