Malawi Cabinet approves National ALE Policy

It is all smiles for Malawi’s education sector, especially the Adult Learning Education (ALE) sub-sector, following the Cabinet’s approval of the National Adult Literacy and Education Policy.

It is all smiles for Malawi’s education sector, especially the Adult Learning Education (ALE) sub-sector, following the Cabinet’s approval of the National Adult Literacy and Education Policy. The Policy, which was approved on February 19th, 2020, will guide improved implementation of ALE services in the country. Various stakeholders in the education sector, including DVV International, have been working with the Government of Malawi to develop and approve the policy, which will be the first ever dedicated policy for the adult education sector in the country.

“The Ministry of Gender, Child Development and Community Development is pleased to inform Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the donor community, all civil society organisations and the general public that Cabinet approved the National Adult and Education Policy (NALEP) on 19th February 2022. The approval provides a platform to guide improved implementation of Adult Literacy and Education in the country,” the Ministry’s Principal Secretary Mrs. Erica Maganga announced through a statement which was published on the Malawi Government website. The Facebook link to the full statement is available here.

The policy is a five year document (2020-2025) and provides a roadmap for facilitating the reduction of the number of illiterate adults by 300,000 annually and 1,500,000 cumulatively by the end of five years.

DVV International Regional Director for Southern Africa, David Harrington, expressed gratitude for the Cabinet’s approval of the policy, stating that it is a huge step forward for the ALE sector in Malawi, which will help to improve coordination of efforts among all stakeholders to promote stronger and more responsive ALE programmes in the country.

“The policy is an essential step in building a robust and sustainable adult education system in Malawi. It will help to improve coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders, guiding on best practices for service delivery and promoting partnerships for an ALE sector that is truly responsive to the needs of Malawi’s adult learners.” He appealed to the Government of Malawi and the donor community to support the sector with the needed resources for the Policy’s implementation. 

Currently, the delivery of adult education services in Malawi is fragmented, with each stakeholder implementing interventions in isolation. Collaboration between stakeholders, governmental and non-governmental, is weak, and this leads to competition for resources, duplication of efforts, and inefficiencies which undermine effective implementation of the national programme. The ALE Policy will address this by promoting and strengthening coordination structures at all levels - community, district, and national; reviewing and operationalizing implementation guidelines and approaches; developing innovative models for service delivery that can be replicated by all stakeholders; promoting partnerships among service providers, andfacilitating the development of a harmonized strategy and implementation plan for the ALE sector. 

The policy will also increase the number of literacy centres nationally, hence increasing enrolment of learners, while aiming at improving male participation in adult education programmes. It will also improve learning outcomes by providing adequate training for instructors and reviewing the curriculum so that it is more relevant to the needs of adult learners. A comprehensive curriculum review is required to ensure that ALE programmes are responsive and attractive to adult learners, particularly youth and men. To achieve this, adult literacy must be linked to skills and livelihoods activities in an integrated manner within a framework of multi-sectoral ALE and lifelong learning.

According to the Malawi National Statistical Office (2018), 14.2 percent of the adult population (aged 16 years and above) are illiterate. This translates into 2.1 million individuals. The National ALE Policy is an important response to address this. 

The National Adult Literacy Programme, which was launched in the early 1980s, receives its main financial support from Government. However, the allocated budget is not adequate to run the needed literacy and education services in the country. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030) and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy make a strong case for the allocation of adequate and reliable resources for education services, including adult literacy and education. However, the current resource basket falls far short of the minimum recommendations by CONFINTEA VI, which is to seek investment of at least 6 percent of GNP in education, and also to work towards increased investment in adult learning and education. 

In order to build a sustainable adult education system, there is a need to ensure flexible and predictable revenue and other resource inflows for the sector. The policy will seek to address this by advocating for increasing resource allocation through pooled or blended funding from public and private sector partners and cooperating partners, and through developing and operationalising a resource mobilisation strategy for the sector.

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