Favoritism Exposed in Malawi Education Sector

Malawi media has exposed disparities in education projects distribution to the extent that two districts have received Lion’s share as seen in the report by Times Group. While there is a general outcry of unfair distribution of projects in the country, it has been learnt that the Ministry of Education has allocated most resources under the World Bank’s Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project (Mesip) to Thyolo and Machinga Districts.

Malawi News has learnt that the World Bank provided a Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Grant Number TFOA2913 to the Ministry of Education, advertised in newspapers on October 13, 2017. In the advertisement, the Ministry of Education stated that it had received financing in the amount of $44.9 million and part of the money would be used for the advertised projects.

According to the documentation we have seen, the Ministry was supposed to construct classroom blocks, pit latrines and water points in Chikwawa, Machinga, Mzimba South, Thyolo, Kasungu, Lilongwe Rural West, Dedza and Mangochi. However, the Ministry of Education allocated most of the resources to Thyolo and Machinga. Ironically, President Peter Mutharika comes from Thyolo, while Minister of Education, Bright Msaka, comes from Machinga.

According to Malawi News investigations, out of the 43 Mesip lots advertised, the Ministry awarded 22 lots to different contractors. The reason for awarding such few lots is said to be inadequate funding from donors. Malawi News has established that Machinga was allocated five lots with Thyolo as the second highest beneficiary — being allocated four lots. The rest of the districts (Mzimba South, Kasungu, Chikwawa and Mangochi) were allocated two lots each, except for Dedza districts which was allocated three.

We have established that the allocation of five lots to Machinga district would result in the construction of more than 30 school blocks, while four lots in Thyolo would result in over 20 school blocks. In their contribution to a debate on the budget statement Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe, delivered in Parliament about a month ago, Members of Parliament (MPs) for Kasungu North East, Elias Wakuda Kamanga and MCP spokesperson on finance, Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi described the distribution of the resources as unfair.

Civil Society Education Coalition Network Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe, said it is saddening that such moves have become a tendency among government officials. “It could have been better if all targeted districts were allocated equal school blocks. All targeted districts lack school infrastructure the same way as the areas which have benefited from the project,” Kondowe said. He has, however, demanded that the exercise be reviewed.

When contacted, Msaka said he could not comment on the issue as he is not responsible for the allocation of development funds at the Ministry. Msaka referred Malawi News to his Principal Secretary, Justin Saidi, who said there was nothing wrong concerning the distribution of the projects. According to Saidi, the criterion used in the allocation of school blocks was explained to the donors. “As far as the issue is concerned, the matter has been sufficiently addressed,” Saidi said.

World Bank spokesperson Zeria Banda could not be drawn to immediately comment on the matter.

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