“For children in the low-income countries, early learning is a springboard allowing them to catch up with their more privileged peers. Preschool education gives them more chances to do well in primary school later, continue through secondary school, and eventually find work with a better pay”. Global Partnership for Education. At Open Arms, we believe the same.
Preschool Education in Malawi
Although 88% of children in Malawi attend primary school, net enrolment in secondary school is only around 15% (UNICEF, 2019). Preschool education makes up around 0.2% of the country’s education budget . This lack of investment in both infrastructure and resources at pre-primary level prevents access to early learning and directly impacts both Malawi’s poor long-term educational outcomes and socioeconomic development.
44% of Malawians are aged under 15 and, with a population growth of 2.6% (UNESCO, 2018), the need to invest in early learning is paramount for the socioeconomic development of the country. Education is the most effective route out of poverty.
Open Arms Nursery Schools
Providing preschool education and a nutritious meal to over 500 children every day, our nursery school programme is working to address these infrastructural and resource problems.
We built these nursery schools in partnership with local communities. Each year we fund a teacher, an assistant, educational resources, food, and a project officer for monitoring purposes, but the communities own and run the schools. Since access to preschool education is minimal, especially in rural areas, nursery schools are directly addressing some of the most pressing educational and socioeconomic challenges which Malawi faces.
Ensuring Long-Term Sustainability
By providing for the educational and nutritional needs of these children and their wider communities, our nursery schools support the Malawi Early Childhood Development (ECD) Strategic Plan which focuses on child development holistically. The plan recognises the need for increased pre-primary capital spending on ECD centres like nursery schools.
As the 6th poorest country in the world (IMF, 2019), however, the education budget is overstretched. Working in line with government policy, our community-owned nursery schools support clearly identified strategic goals to combat malnutrition and poor educational outcomes.
Delivering pre-primary education and nutrition to rural communities, our schools improve children’s long-term educational opportunities and socioeconomic and health prospects.
A daily meal of fortified porridge combats malnutrition which affects 37% of Malawian children under 5 with stunting (UNICEF, 2018) and is directly linked to cognitive development – central to educational performance.
By actively pursuing UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG’s) 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 4 (Quality Education) and 10 (Reduced Inequalities), the schools are making a valuable contribution to the long-term socioeconomic and health sustainability of Malawi. We want to help achieve the holistic goals of the ECD Strategic Plan but at the moment we need your help to keep our school open.
Education enables upward socioeconomic mobility; preschools improve long-term educational outcomes and offer a route to improved employment later in life. Attention to the nutritional needs of children also bolsters educational performance, improves long-term health prospects, and combats the socioeconomic effects of malnutrition.
Support Preschool Education this Christmas
From the 1-8th December, your donations towards our Big Give Christmas Challenge will be match-funded in The Big Give Christmas Challenge if we can reach our £6,525 target. Doing so would mean that we could fund the full costs of five nursery schools in 2021, half of the entire programme. For more information and to donate, please visit: https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a051r00001fHSldAAG