Despite claims that primary education is free in the country, learners in primary schools are paying a lot of money to access education.
This is according to a Citizens Action Report that Action Aid has released following research conducted in four districts namely Neno, Chitipa, Lilongwe and Ntchisi.
According to the report, even though primary schools education is deemed “free”, all the 20 schools where the study was done charge fees for exams while 19 charge for school development.
“These fees are compulsory in all the schools. The average cost per family for all these costs is MK3,512,” the organisation said.
In Malawi MANEB administers the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education for Standard 8 pupils and sitting for the exams requires payment of MK1,680 per student.
Pupils in Standard 8 also pay for mock exams during the third term of the year.
According to the ActionAid study, pupils are also expected to pay at least MK100 for the school development fund and an average of MK348 in Standard 1 to 8 per term for examination and school reports.
If parents or guardians fail to pay this contribution, their children are not allowed to sit for exams until the payment is made.
“Considering poverty in rural areas, parents struggle to raise this amount and this contributes to dropouts,” ActionAid says.
Among other primary schools where the research was conducted included Mwadzi in Neno, Benthu in Chitipa, Tsabango in Lilongwe and Kasakula in Ntchisi.