Executing Agency: Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN)
Grant Amount: US$ 705,000
Closing Date: March, 2019
Despite significant investments in education, Malawi has not been able to move from low human and social development outcomes. The education sector is characterized by low levels of student achievement and high dropout rates in primary school. There are large disparities in education outcomes as well as shortages and uneven supply of trained teachers, disproportionately affecting rural and poor regions.
Weak institutional capacity and inefficiencies in the education procurement systems result in mismanagement of public resources, a lack of adequate school infrastructure, and significant delays in the provision of teaching and learning materials (TLMs). A large proportion of teachers in Malawi experience low motivation and high absenteeism rates due to challenging working conditions, irregular and low pay, overcrowded classrooms, budget shortages, and little institutional support. Students graduating from public schools are not adequately prepared and equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively participate in the labor force, imposing a constraint in the growth of the economy.
The Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), a coalition of organizations with extensive experience in governance issues, has been awarded a GPSA grant to strengthen the institutional capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to: 1) monitor, lobby, and advocate for transparency and accountability in the public procurement processes and systems of the education sector in Malawi; and 2) strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to apply social accountability tools. Communities will be empowered to implement social accountability tools to demand greater accountability in the use of public resources in the education sector. Information generated through the project will be shared with key authorities in the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Director of Public Procurement in order to tackle inefficiencies in the education sector.
The GPSA grant will help MEJN attain the following results:
Parent Teacher Associations will be empowered to actively participate in monitoring and reporting the quality and transparency of procurement processes in the education sector.
Monitoring reports produced by CSOs will be shared with local authorities and the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) to areas that need action.
CSOs at the community, district, and national level will have improved capacity to effectively work with ODPP to address procurement bottlenecks.
Procurement systems and guidelines will be reviewed annually to ensure adequate controls and transparency.
Procurement contracts in the education sector will be awarded and managed in a transparent manner
Rural schools in target districts will have improved and timely access to relevant TLMs.
Communities and citizens will be more informed about their children’s right to education and better prepared to demand accountability from schools managers and local authorities.
Outcomes in the project's area
1. Schools that hadn’t been listed on the national school directory for years due to oversight, now receive textbooks.
2. Looting and subsequent illegal sale of textbooks by private sellers has been reduced by 80%.
3. 40 monitoring committees were trained and are now active in monitoring school supplies. This in turn has improved head masters’ and teachers’ accountability, as well as other public procurements.
4. Data gathered by the committees about school enrollment vs. textbook availability has allowed for more accurate procurement by the Education Ministry, reducing the considerable wastage of budgets. .