Education in Malawi

Background to education in Malawi

Education is seen as a vehicle for promoting national consciousness and cohesion and as a catalyst for economic development. Primary school education is free and well stablished. Secondary school is less well established and costs £25 per term per child.

In 2012, a UNICEF Malawi Annual Report wrote, “One extra year of primary school boosts a girl’s future wage 10 to 20 percent and an extra year of secondary school increases that earning potential by 15 to 25 percent.” Education increases the chance for girls to receive employment opportunities and higher incomes.

Community Day Secondary Schools

Most secondary schools in Malawi are Community Day Secondary Schools(CDSS). These schools are initially built by local communities not by Government. Community leaders in a village take it on themselves to build a basic campus with 1-2 classrooms and an Administration Block.

In Malawi these CDSS’s become the strategic hub for these dispersed rural communities. Once the CDSS is established the Government provide teachers and limited resources for teaching. But then, after the initial activity by the community, the schools often struggle to develop. If pupil numbers drop the school is then unable to cover maintenance costs and the school continues to decline.

The good news is that attached to secondary schools are several community groups that take an interest in supporting the school.

These include:

Tribal Elders
Board Of Governors
Parent Teacher Associations (PTA)
School management committee (SMC)
Mothers Group
Student Pupils Council

Generally the most active groups are the PTA, SMC, and Mothers Group.

With our relationship with these groups , communities become empowered, and the schools once again become hubs with a sustainable future.

For example, in Mikuyu a health clinic has been established and a road bridge constructed to enable the area to be accessible 365 days a year. These are all profound secondary benefits of our work.

The challenge of pupil retention and how MST responds

Whilst Primary schooling is compulsory in Malawi and close to 100% of children go to Primary School, less than 10% of children complete their secondary education, especially in rural areas.

There are many reasons for poor retention in schools that we are proactively tackling. 

Our vision

We are working towards a Malawi where all children can benefit from a secondary education in buildings which are fit for purpose and with the resources and teachers they need to thrive.


Students now attending schools supported by MST


Additional pupils graduating each year

More about MST

Keep exploring the MST website to learn more about our work 

Thank you to our supporters

100% of all donations go directly to help our partners in Malawi
Malawi Schools Trust Registered Charity number 1182866
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