Outcomes from the Joint Sector Review on Education last week show that investment habits in education have not improved as less than 4.66 percent of the national income has been invested in the sector since the 2012/13 fiscal year.
While such is the case, Malawi is party to the Incheon Declaration on Inclusive Education which recommends governments to allocate between four and six percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to education if they are to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4.
In 2020/21 National Budget, the overall revised spending for the education sector was K395.9 billion of which K341.3 billion was for recurrent expenditure and K54.6 billion for development outlays.
In the current financial year, the sector got K327.3 billion which is 3.2 percent of GDP and representing 16.5 percent of the total budget.
The allocation falls below the recommended Dakar Commitment on Education for All by the African Union which calls for 20 percent of the budget to be allocated to the education sector.
Secretary for Education Chikondano Mussa and education experts Steve Sharra and Benedicto Kondowe admitted in separate interviews the funding challenges dogging the sector.
They said investment in human capital, which is a requisite for technological advancement and innovation, is key to growth.
Sharra warned that it will remain a vain effort if policies guiding the sector are developed without scientific evidence.
“When we do start using this evidence, we will get some changes. Although the education sector gets over 20 percent of some national budgets, it is still not enough,” he said.
In a presentation during the meeting Mussa suggested that there is a substantial misallocation of national revenue towards inefficient factors of production.
She said: “Primary meaningful education reform requires leveraging adequate finance to support human capital development.”
Mussa added that even compilation of finances to education remains problematic, as such, only government expenditure and Official Development Assistance and some discreet financiers can be tracked and reported.
On his part, Kondowe, who is Civil Society Education Coalition executive director, said SDG 4, while challenging countries to allocate at least a minimum of 15 percent of national budget to education, developing countries like Malawi need to go beyond 20 percent.
“Reliance on budget financing for education sector has not helped, so we need to be more innovative,” he said.