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Monday, 05 August 2019 14:56

SIG can improve education standards - MEJN

Written by  Sam Majamanda
The media interact with Naminjiwa Primary School management - Pic by Sam Majamanda The media interact with Naminjiwa Primary School management - Pic by Sam Majamanda

Phalombe, August 5, 2019: Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) says the Primary School Improvement Grants (SIM) Initiative has the capability of transforming the country's education system if given enough resources.

Regional Coordinator for MEJN in the south, Mike Banda made the remarks last Friday on the sidelines of a media tour that his organization facilitated with the aim of allowing media personnel to appreciate successes of the school improvement initiative in various schools of the district.

“Under our public expenditure tracking project, we are monitoring how SIG is being implemented from top to bottom and in Phalombe, we are doing this through 15 schools spread across the district.

“So, today we wanted the media to visit six among the 15 schools to see what we have seen too,” Banda explained.

During the tour, the media noticed that primary schools were initiating a lot of commendable interventions that are contributing to the improvement of access, equity and relevance of education to learners.

Classic examples of SIG successes were noticed at Naminjiwa Primary School where the school management has constructed a modern teacher’s house, a storage building for consumables and staff toilets.

However, Banda said although the schools are registering such achievements, the money they receive was little, posing threats that they could end up engaging in construction works that are below recommended standards.

“Due to the need that is in many education institutions, school managements may still end up using the little money they receive under SIG to achieve what they lack most even when the money may not be enough for such projects. As a result substandard work is produced.

“This will have negative outcomes with the passage of time,” said Banda.

Harrison Chisemula who is Head Teacher for Napatapa Primary School located at over 50 Kilometers east of Phalombe said apart from not receiving enough money for them to properly address their challenges, the criteria used in allocating funds leaves a lot to be desired.

Chisemula said in their case, when they receive the grant a good percentage goes to administration expenses as they have to travel a long distance to access materials they need to buy in order to implement their plans.

“Government should consider all factors in allocating SIG so that schools such as ours located far from the boma can be getting a higher amount to accommodate administrative costs,” said the head teacher.

On his part, Senior Supervisor of Primary Schools in Phalombe, William Namakhula commended government for introducing the initiative which, over the past seven years, has seen many primary schools in the district retain learners who would have dropped out of school.

“Over these years, we have seen schools improve in terms of accessibility, equity, relevance and good governance. This is a commendable thing and we wish government and partners could support it more,” said Namakhula.

Government introduced the School Improvement Grants in 2012 as a way of allowing schools to be producing their own decentralized plans and implementing them with funds from both the central government and within their localities.

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