The World Bank and Malawi Government on Wednesday signed two financial agreements worth $173 million (about K143 billion) to fund programmes in the education and transport sectors.
In the education sector, the Malawi Education Reform Programme (Merp) has a total financing of $150 million (K125 billion) of which $57 million (K47 billion) is grant from the Global Partnership for Education, $74 million (K61 billion) is a grant from the International Development Association (IDA), an international financial institution of the bank, while $18 million (about K15 billion) is a credit from the same IDA.
The remaining $22.8 million (about K19 billion) is additional financing for the Southern Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Programme (Sattfp), with half the amount being a grant and the other half is a credit.
Speaking after signing the financial agreements, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu said the Merp seeks to improve learning environment for pupils in lower primary in government schools while the Sattfp phase two will facilitate the movement of goods and people along the North-South Corridor and at key border crossings in Malawi while supporting improvements in road safety and health services along the corridor.
He explained that the Merp, which will have national coverage, is designed to benefit all government primary schools, with special consideration for underprivileged schools.
Mlusu said: “Among other things, the programme will construct 10 900 classrooms and 1 000 sanitation blocks, support construction and expansion of primary schools in response to Covid-19, support recruitment of 3 500 auxiliary teachers, retention of teachers in hard- to-reach schools, constructing female teachers’ houses to improve distribution of female teachers to act as role models in primary school and strengthen school leadership capacity.”
He said additional financing towards the transport sector will support core investments relating to improving safety of road infrastructure along the M1 by removing some of country’s deadliest accident spots and efficiencies in trade and transport infrastructure at Songwe One-Stop Border Post.
The minister said the programme recognises that the mix of markets, traders, pedestrians and vehicles around five trading centres of Chimbiya in Dedza, Lizulu, Tsangano Turn-off and Kampepuza in Ntcheu and Lunzu in Blantyre have created a dangerous environment with several spots recording deadliest road accidents in recent years.
Mlusu further said the money will support the construction of critical safety enhancements.
In his remarks, World Bank country manager for Malawi Hugh Riddell described the Merp as IDA’s largest investment in the country’s primary education and is more than triple the size of the predecessor Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project, which was also supported by the Global Partnership for Education.
“It goes without saying that the work supports the government’s vision of improved connectivity and a land-linked Malawi that is more integrated with regional trade,” he said.
The Merp is a four-year project to be implemented between 2021 and 2025 while the Sattfp runs from 2021 to 2023.