The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which are among the Government of Malawi’s key development partners, on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU), which allows the two agencies to collaborate in the implementation of the SEED project (Secondary Education Expansion for Development).
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding took place at the Mkoko construction site in Lilongwe, in the presence of the Minister of Education, Agnes NyaLonje.
Apparently, USAID, in partnership with the government of Malawi, has already implemented the US$90 million project, which aims to build new infrastructure or renovate 250 secondary schools across the country to improve schooling and learning.
USAID has pledged to fund initial school infrastructure at each construction site, including, among other things, two classroom blocks, a science lab, latrines, and two teachers’ quarters.
As part of the MoU, UNICEF will, among other things, invest an additional $6 million in SEED, which will be used to purchase furniture for all schools built under the project.
Speaking at the signing, USAID Mission Director in Malawi, Dr. Catie Lott, said the partnership will work to expand opportunities so that young people, especially adolescent girls and young people women, can contribute to their own development and that of their community.
“One of the most important tools we can give young people is the opportunity to pursue a quality education. As USAID, we are proud to work with UNICEF and the Government of Malawi to improve access to quality education and marketable skills, so that all children and young people in Malawi can have the foundations for a healthier and more productive life.
As we work together to lay the groundwork – figuratively and literally – we know that the buildings that will come, the teachers that will occupy them, and the villages that surround and support these schools, will nurture these young people to become our future doctors, engineers, farmers, electricians, pilots, journalists, chefs and presidents,” Lott said.
In his remarks, UNICEF Malawi Representative Rudolf Schwenk said the agency is honored to partner with the Ministry of Education and USAID to equip secondary schools with school furniture, including , among others, chairs and desks for students and teachers and laboratory stools.
“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates our commitment to addressing the urgent infrastructure needs in the education sector, in particular the shortage of classrooms and furniture necessary for a child-friendly learning environment.
At UNICEF, we believe that every child has the fundamental right to a quality education – an education that provides a safe and friendly environment with appropriate facilities and infrastructure. And yet, we know that millions of children in Malawi lack access to basic classrooms and adequate educational materials which make learning difficult for them. Appropriate school facilities like desks help keep children in school by increasing attendance and improving the learning experience,” Schwenk said.
Under the SEED project, the government of Malawi is committed to not only securing land tenure for school construction, but also to staffing completed schools with qualified teachers.
In turn, Education Minister Agnes NyaLonje said the partnership between USAID and UNICEF will help “realize” the Tonse government’s dream of equitable access to secondary education for all. young people from Malawi.
“Increasing access and making schools safer will allow more young people, especially adolescent girls and young women, to transition from primary to secondary and be able to complete their education. The current transition rate from primary to secondary is 37% while the net secondary enrollment rate is 15%, which means that the majority of young people of secondary school age are out of school.
“USAID and the Ministry of Education are proud to now partner with UNICEF in this endeavor, ensuring that SEED schools are fully equipped with furniture provided by UNICEF, so that children and young people who attend these schools can sit comfortably and learn in an environment that maximizes their ability to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to make healthy choices and continue their education beyond high school,” said NyaLonje.