Education Fact Sheet

Minister of Education & Human Resources: Hon. Dr. Lucious Kanyumba

Education System: 8-4-4

The primary level, which is an eight-year cycle, runs from Standard 1 through Standard 8. This level is divided into three sections; infant section which comprises Standards 1 and 2; junior section comprising Standards 3, 4 and 5 and senior section comprising Standards 6, 7 and 8. Secondary level education lasts four years and consists of two cycles- junior (Forms one and two) and senior (Forms 3 and 4) with national examinations after each cycle. The last level is tertiary education, which includes university, technical and vocational and teacher education. The number of years for this level varies depending on the course being pursued and ranges from one year to five years.

Primary Education

The official entry age into primary level education is 6 years but there are wide variations in the ages of pupils, ranging between 4 years in Standard 1 to 18 years in Standard 8. The wide variations are mainly due to late and multiple entries into schools and multiple grade repetitions. The Malawi government maintained a policy of open access (but not compulsory) to primary education for a long time. Until the introduction of the FPE policy, this access had been severely hampered by the charging of user fees, the requirement to wear school uniform and the many other contributions parents were expected to make towards the education of their children.

Secondary Education

Secondary education is offered by three categories of institutions: the conventional secondary schools, the Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSS) and the Private Schools. The last two categories mainly cater for those primary school leavers who are not selected into the formal secondary schools by the government on the basis of the nation-wide Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations (PSLCE).

Duration of compulsory education: 8 years

Starting age of compulsory education: 6 years

Ending age of compulsory education: 13 years

Enrolment in 2007*

Gross enrolment rate
Net enrolment rate
Gross enrolment rate
Net enrolment rate

*latest data as of March 2009 from UNESCO Institute for Statistics.