Changes in Girl's Lives: Malawi from 1990 to 1997 (1999)

Departmental Working Paper/Country Study

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Publication Date: 1999
Author/Publisher: World Bank
Language: English

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The study explores the changes occurred in Malawi since 1990, by reviewing first, the country's economic, and social conditions; secondly, its education system; and, finally, the education of girls. Malawi's economic, and social indicators are among the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the United Nations Development Program Index, (1994) ranking the country 161 out of 175 countries. Its fertility rate was 6.6 percent, and population growth rate was 3.2 percent. Infant and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world, with rapid increases in AIDS/HIV incidence. In comparison to countries with similar economic conditions, Malawi's primary school enrolment is low, and secondary school enrolment is extremely low, with vast disparities in education across income levels. However, the most significant change in the education system occurred during the 1990s, resulting from the new Government's decision to make primary education available, by eliminating tuition fees. The dramatically higher education enrolment, strained the system, posing a significant challenge to educational quality. On this basis, the study explores girls’ access, persistence and achievement rates in education, analyzing the attitudinal aspect of their education: girls’ schooling was seen as a preparation to become wives/mothers, rather than for employment goals. However, international recognition that girls’ education yield higher rates of return than any other investment available in the developing world stimulated the issue to strategically support girls’ education. Factors creating this change were the major social, and political changes, which helped propel reforms; identification of gender inequities as a social problem; and, sustained efforts to pursue the introduced strategies, policies, and programs to impact girls’ education.


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