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Developing Malawi Student Literacy Skills During COVID School Closures

September 8, 2020

Across the globe school closures have been a difficult reality for anyone with school-aged children.

In developed countries, this means online classes and an increased need for families to find ways to supervise their kids during the school day. But, in Malawi, this reality has even more significant challenges for the nearly 6 million children who have been home, without access to structured learning opportunities, since late March.

Recent estimates suggest only 14.2 percent of Malawians have access to the internet and only 11.4 percent have access to electricity in their homes. Online learning is simply not an option.  But waiting for the pandemic to pass is also not an option.

New studies are documenting the significant learning loss that multiple countries across the globe are suffering due to school closures and a lack of access to other learning alternatives. The situation for Malawian children is dire, but the Abt-led, USAID-funded Yesani Ophunzira (YESA) Activity has been able to adapt its programming to work with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), and other USAID-funded implementing partners to develop and roll out ongoing learning opportunities.

In response, the YESA Activity is:

  1. Providing technical input into the scope, sequence, and scripts for nationwide educational radio programs;
  2. Preparing MoEST to collect learning outcome data once schools reopen in order to assess learning loss;
  3. Adapting YESA-developed  English and Chichewa literacy remediation activities for home use and for use at schools now operating under new COVID-19 safety protocols (e.g., group work while maintaining social distance); and
  4. Consulting with MoEST decisionmakers on effective and appropriate COVID-19 policies related to eventually re-opening schools.

This pandemic has taken away access to education for millions of Malawian children. They don’t have access to technology; without additional support, every day that schools remain closed they will fall further behind. Abt Associates is proud to be working with USAID and the MoEST to help them reclaim and retain their education.

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