UNESCO bemoans inadequate funding for adult literacy education

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has bemoaned the government and donors’ failure to channel adequate resources towards adult literacy education in the country.

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UNESCO Acting Executive Secretary David Mlera said this in an interview on the sidelines of the drafting of the adult literacy mathematics instruction materials in Liwonde.

He said Malawi is lagging behind in as far as providing adequate resources for adult literacy education is concerned.

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Mlera noted that despite adult literacy education involving most of the citizenry, less funding is provided by the national budget and also the donor community.

Mlera making a point during the workshop. Pic by Martin Chiwanda-Mana

He said the development is putting literacy education at a disadvantage to a larger population as compared to basic education.

“According to the country’s 2020 Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), primary enrolment is at 4.9 million, 31 percent complete primary education and 19 percent transit to secondary school. This means that most of the people enrolled in primary schools drop out before they complete their education.

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“It means that those that need adult literacy education out there are huge as compared to those that are attending formal education. So, this area needs a lot of resources, surprisingly only less than one percent of the education budget from both government and donors is allocated to adult literacy education,” explained Mlera.

Mlera further said it will be a far-fetched dream for the country to realize an ‘inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation’ as enshrined in the Malawi 2063 if adult literacy education remains unattended to.

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“For your information, the potential and current adult literacy learners are the ones who can economically contribute to the nation and achieve the much-awaited Malawi 2063. Therefore, if they are left behind due to inadequate funding, then it will not be easy to attain inclusive wealth and self-reliance come 2063.

“Therefore, we need to do more by channeling more resources towards adult literacy and skills development so that more Malawians who did not go through formal education, should realize their potential in order to achieve Malawi 2063. Let me ask the donors and Malawi government to pump in more resources towards adult literacy education,” said Mlera.

Chief Community Development Officer responsible for adult literacy and adult education in the ministry of gender, Samuel Ziba concurred with Mlera that the adult literacy sector gets meager resources despite the country signing a protocol committing itself to provide about three percent of the education budget to adult literacy education.

“Building on the Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning and the Agenda for the Future of 1997, the Belém Framework for Action records the commitments of Member States and presents a strategic guide for the global development of adult literacy and adult education within the perspective of lifelong learning.

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With this framework, Malawi and other member states committed to allocating three percent of the total budget to adult literacy education and learning. However, things are not that positive when it comes to funding as only less than one percent is being channeled to adult literacy and learning,” he revealed.

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