Statistics from Ministry of Education and Malawi National Commission for Unesco show that five million of the country’s 18 million people are illiterate, meaning, about 27 in every 100 cannot read and write.
Speaking during the commemoration of the Adult Literacy Day in Rumphi under the theme Literacy for a Human-centred Recovery: Narrowing the Digital Divide, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kalitai said the statistics were alarming.
But the minister expressed optimism that donor partners and others would help government in ensuring that the citizenry are all able to read and write.
Kaliati said government desired that all primary schools should have early childhood development (ECD) centre, so that literacy can be controlled from the grassroots level.
She said: “We are ensuring that we should not leave anyone behind. We have a few years to 2030 and we have a vision which we are monitoring on whether we are moving at a snail’s pace or not. We work with national Library, Unesco, but also Oxfam, World Vision and a number of classes from other players.
“In the next budget, the allocation towards this may be increased, but we have a number of stakeholders who are supporting us.”
Malawi National Commission for Unesco acting executive secretary David Mulera said it was worrisome that not many men are patronising the adult literacy classes.
“There could be limited resources for the programme, but the first and foremost thing is to that would champion everybody to rally behind the agenda. Government has a policy which was adopted, and then what is needed is a strategic plan which government has also done,” he said.
National Library Service director Grey Nyali, whose institution donated some books to ECDs in the district, said they have been provided with resources to ensure that all their 18 outlets in the country have enough books.
He said government has provided them with K150 million to procure additional books, which will ensure that many people have access to reading material.
According to Unesco data, in 2019, more than 86 percent of the world’s population knew how to read and write compared to 69 percent in 1979.
Malawi Government has about 800 Chichewa and 1 633 English classes in adult literacy, but the programme is hampered by a number of challenges, including delays to pay arrears to teachers, limited supervision and less patronage of males.