Activists complain over decrease in funding for textbooks

Education activists have expressed concern over the decrease in government funding for procurement of textbooks, saying learning materials are already inadequate in schools in the country.

The Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) raised the concerns during a cluster meeting of Committee on Education at Parliament Building in Lilongwe.

The meeting came days after the presentation of the K2.2 trillion national budget by the Minister of Finance.

Speaking during presentation, CSEC Program Manager Kisa Kumwenda said funding towards achievement of the texbook ratio has decreased from K4 billion in the 2016/2017 budget to K1.6 billion in this year ‘s national budget.

He added that this is happening even though there are inadequate teaching and learning materials both in primary, secondary schools. Kumwenda described the decrease in funding as a step backwards.

He further noted that  government has been allocating more funds towards the recurrent expenditure which is   different from development budget since 90 percent of it has been funded by donors.

“We are banking our development of the sector to the donors who have conditions. We should not be driven by donors’ priorities because they differ,” he explained.

On Coronavirus, Kumwenda condemned government for providing materials such as hand sanitizers and face masks in secondary schools despite the government earlier promising to provide the materials before reopening of schools.

In his remarks, Chairperson of Parliamentary Education Committee, Brian Mfaume Azizi Kaize, commended CSEC for working hand in hand with Members of Parliament in exposing budget gaps.

He said the meeting was an eye opener to the members and the issues of shortage of teaching and learning materials and poor hygiene will be dealt with accordingly during a meeting with the minister of finance.

The meeting was jointly organized by CSEC, ActionAid Malawi, Water Aid and Early Childhood Development (ECD) Coalition.