Primary education interventions in Malawi

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Helpdesk Query:

What interventions in Malawi aim to improve a) literacy levels, b) learning outcomes more broadly, c) enrolment, attendance and/or completion rates, and d) transition rates to secondary education for primary school children? What evidence is there of impact? What is the evidence on interventions in the region?


This rapid review identified a number of resources on primary education interventions in Malawi. Section 2 highlights literacy interventions. The Early Grade Reading Project (EGRP), funded by USAID, aims to strengthen teaching methodologies, develop appropriate learning materials, increase parental and communal support for reading, and improve the policy environment for reading. Evaluation of this project finds improved literacy scores and improved reading instruction. Save the Children’s Literacy Boost project uses assessments, teacher training and community mobilisation to improve literacy. Evaluation results show Literacy Boost schools to have significantly higher reading skills than before the programme.

Section 3 highlights interventions with a focus on girls’ education. A Theatre for a Change UK project empowered young female teachers to create inclusive environments for marginalised girls. The intervention was found to improve literacy levels and attendance for marginalised girls in treatment schools.

Interventions focussed on learning outcomes more broadly, enrolment, attendance and completion are included in Section 4. Programmes reporting evidence include:

  • The World Bank’s Project to Improve Education in Malawi saw improvement in enrolment rates from 79 to 88 % over four years.
  • Primary school support program: a school fees pilot (PSSP: SFP) funded by USAID for equitable access to education reports improved pupil achievements and improvement in the use of active teaching methods.
  • A randomised control trial found a tablet intervention significantly improved maths learning. The VSO International Unlocking Talent Project is scaling up this idea.
  • Learning material provision and a ‘school buddy’ system improved dropout rates. A slight intervention effect on maths test scores was also found.

Evidence on transition rates was not identified.

In addition to identifying evidence on Malawi, the scope of this report allowed for only a very rapid search for evidence of education interventions in the wider African region. Research was mainly identified from more comprehensive reviews. See Section 5 for interventions in countries with the closest proximity to Malawi: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique. See Section 6 for interventions in other countries in the region: Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

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