Malawi has 1.7 million desks for 5.3 million learners


Minister of Education Agnes Nyalonje says there is serious of shortage of desks in primary schools across the country, where an estimated 1, 712, 683 desks are available for over 5.3 million learners in public primary schools.

Speaking when presenting a statement in Parliament, Nyalonje said as at 2020, the total Primary Enrollment was 5,303,188 learners of which 2,677,650 are girls and 2,625,538 boys.

One of the challenges the learners face is a huge shortage of furniture in primary schools, estimated at only 1, 712, 683 desks.

According to Nyalonje, over the years there has been very little investment in the provision of desks to schools by both Government and Development Partners compared to the growth in enrollment.

Between 2016 and 2020 under the Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP), the Ministry implemented a project to provide desks to primary schools and Community Day Secondary Schools.

Under that project, a total of MK6 Billion was allocated and utilized to procure and distribute a total of 149,110 student desks and chairs; and 1,273 classroom tables and chairs for teachers.

UNICEF has also been supporting the Ministry of Education through in provision of quality school furniture to primary schools under the Kids in Need of Desks (KIND) project which has been running since 2011.

Since November 2020, UNICEF has procured and distributed 60,000 desks to 1,200 primary schools.

An additional 21,000 desks will be procured and distributed across the country from August 2021 to December 2021.

Cumulatively, the total number of desks distributed under the UNICEF KIND project to date is 235,203, which has benefited 470,406 learners.

“Madam Speaker, the August House may wish to be informed that procurement of desks and chairs for our learners is a continuous process as enrollment continues to swell. The Ministry will strive to ensure that we reduce shortage of furniture in our schools across the country,” said Nyalonje.

She added that here is also need to continuously replace worn out pieces of furniture in schools.

Nyalonje decried the poor culture of maintenance of school furniture in schools across the country, saying it is common when people visit schools to find heaps of broken desks, most requiring only minor repairs.

“My Ministry will no longer condone this neglect; we will work to strengthen management of schools, including instilling a maintenance culture amongst the school leadership. Among other things, this will be done through institutionalization of the school leadership training programs for all head teachers and deputy head teachers which my Ministry has started implementing,” she said.