Phalombe District Council needs at least 2, 323 classrooms if the 1:60 classroom to learners ratio is to be realized at primary school level, a report on the status of education in the district has revealed.
The report, which was compiled in September 2017, indicates that there is a staggering increase in girls’ school dropout as compared to some schools in the district due to reasons ranging from early marriages to pregnancies.
Presenting the report recently, District Education Manager for Phalombe, Hendrix Likeke, said some schools were experiencing huge classroom space shortages as compared to others due to disparities in learners’ enrollment.
“Primary schools such as Migowi, Nyezelera, Mwanyenga, Phalombe and Nazombe are in need of over 50 classrooms to effectively negotiate their classroom to learners’ ratio, while a good percentage of the rest need around 30 classrooms on average,” said Likeke.
He said among solutions that could assist in reducing overcrowding in classrooms was the establishment of junior primary schools near the most populated schools to reduce the population of children attending such schools.
A visit by Malawi News Agency (Mana) to Phalombe Primary School, which according to the report requires 71 classrooms to match its learners’ enrollment, revealed that its current average classroom to learner ratio stands at 1:100 with some classes reaching a population of over 150, which is beyond double the recommended ratio.
However, Head teacher for Phalombe Primary School, Brave Mapondo said although the school has inadequate classrooms, there are over 200 hectares of land belonging to the institution where all the 71 required classrooms could be constructed if funds were made available.
Chairperson for Phalombe District Education Network, Richard Muluzi said there was no way education could improve in the district when in some schools, over 200 students were crowded in small rooms to attend classes.
“While we’re talking about quality education, we should also realize that there is no way that we can achieve it in conditions that our learners are subjected to. Expecting our learners to go to good secondary schools while we’re failing to pay attention to their foundation is unrealistic,” Muluzi said.
Muluzi, while commending government for increasing funding allocation towards recruitment of teachers, he said government should also solve the classroom to learner ratio so that teachers being employed should not administer lessons under shade of trees.
Issues of teacher-learner and teacher-classroom ratio have lived long in the education sector. However, over the past years government has improved on teacher-learner ratio with some schools in Phalombe registering a ratio of 1:65.-MANA