Information by Country

Malawi: Background

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Malawi’s commitment to reducing poverty is reflected in the country’s bold decision to introduce free primary education and its renewed attention to girls’ education. This coincides with international trends recognizing that educating girls is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to reduce poverty and spur growth.

Gender inequalities, AIDS and harmful cultural practices, however, contribute to a poor state of development, while such natural disasters as droughts and floods exacerbate the situation.

Malawi is one of the 25 pilot countries selected for implementation of the Strategy to Accelerate Girls’ Education.

Barriers to girls’ education

  • Traditional practices, cultural values and attitudes that are discriminatory towards girls.
  • The impact of AIDS.
  • The lack of separate latrines for girls and boys.
  • The inability of many families to pay for education costs.

UNGEI in Action

UNGEI was launched in Malawi in 2004. The role of the UNGEI Country Advisory Committee is to bring together the Government, donors and civil society partners, to provide leadership and to leverage resources for girls’ education.

Key initiatives for girls’ education

  • Advocacy and sensitization of communities.
  • Material support for orphans and vulnerable children and girls.
  • Provision of infrastructure and teaching/learning materials.
  • Gender-disaggregated data collection.
  • Country membership in the ‘Child-Friendly Schools for Africa’ initiative.


At the national level, partners include the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender and Community Services, Ministry of Health, Centre for Education Research and Training, Malawi Institute of Education, National Statistical Office of Malawi and the Teachers’ Union of Malawi,  as well as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), non-governmental organizations, UK Department for International Development (DFID), United Nations Population Fund, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Food Programme and the World Bank.

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

The Education for All ‘Plan of Action’, Malawi Education Sector: Policy & Investment Framework, National Education Sector Plan and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) identify girls’ education as a priority and work in partnerships on issues affecting girls’ education.


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