Initial Teacher Education in Malawi

Initial Teacher Education in Malawi

Mercy Kazima and Patrick Kapito

University of Malawi


In Malawi, there is one major route for initial primary teacher education and this is offered by the Ministry of Education through Teacher Education Colleges and the qualification is a Teachers’ Certificate. The other route is a two and a half year full time programme offered by a Non Governmental Organisation called Development Aid from People to People (DAPP). In this programme teaching practice is extensive as it is intertwined with pedagogy instruction. Initial secondary teacher education has two main routes; one is a Bachelor of Education offered by Universities and the other is a Diploma in Education offered by Ministry of Education through Domasi College of Education. There is another, but less common, route of general Diploma or Degree followed by a University Certificate in Education.


The initial primary teacher education course takes a total of two academic years. The first year is a residential full time taught course at the colleges, while the second year is a full time school based training in the form of teaching practice Student teachers are placed in one school for the entire academic year where they are expected to teach in collaboration with an experienced teacher. The other mode of primary school teacher training is through a two year open distance learning mode where students are taught for a period of two weeks at the colleges before they are posted to schools where they are expected to teach in collaboration with an experienced teacher in the school. The college training also takes place for two weeks every end of term holiday for the two year period. However, in both training programs, due to shortage of teachers in the schools, many student teachers teach by themselves because the experienced teachers are allocated other classes to teach.

Faculty of Education of the University of Malawi offers Bachelor of Education programme and for a long time was the only one in the country offering degree level qualification for initial secondary school education. The programme has a total of four years and one semester. The four years are all for full time taught courses at the University. The last semester is for teaching practice where student teachers are allocated to one school for one term. The requirement is that the student teachers be in schools for ten to twelve continuous weeks. Recently Mzuzu University, which is the only other public university in Malawi, also offers a Bachelor of Education programme. There are also three private Universities which are offering degree programmes in Education although the numbers are relatively small compared to University of Malawi. The programmes at these other universities vary slightly from the University of Malawi programme. A common feature is that they all require teaching practice for at least one school term.

University of Malawi also offers the University Certificate of Education (UCE) course which is meant for teachers that obtained a general Diploma or Degree in their teaching subject but have no teaching qualification. Ideally this course is supposed to be taken before taking up a teaching position but in practice almost all the students in the programme already have teaching jobs and many have taught for years. The UCE is a one year programme which includes teaching practice for one school term. Initially UCE was a full time course but with the shortage of teachers in the schools the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (which provides most of the students) and the Faculty of Education agreed to make the course predominantly distance. Thus currently the students have their face to face sessions at the college during the two holidays and do assignments when they return to their schools.

Diploma in Education programme at Domasi College was established in 1994 in an attempt to address the shortage of teachers in Malawi secondary schools. Domasi offers both full time and distance programs. The full time programme enrols both secondary school graduates and serving primary school teachers. The programme takes 3 years and includes teaching practice of six weeks in the second year and another six weeks in the third year. The distance programme targets community secondary school teachers who hold a primary school teaching certificate but due to shortage of teachers were co-opted to teach at the secondary school. The programme also includes teaching practice. Currently there are plans to phase out the Diploma programme and have Domasi become part of Faculty of Education, University of Malawi.





Chimwenje, C. (1998) Effectiveness of the Distance Education In Malawi: Student outcomes. Paper presented at the distance education Symposium for the Mzuzu University.

Government of Malawi. (2006). Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, For Poverty to Prosperity 2006–11.

Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and UNICEF. (1998). Free Primary Education: The Malawi experience 1994 – 1998 (Study Report). Lilongwe: UNICEF, Malawi.

Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. (2000). Teacher Education and Development Review (Consultancy Report). Lilongwe: Teacher Development Unit.

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.(2001). The Way Forward For Secondary Teacher Education in Malawi (Task Force Report). Lilongwe: Teacher Development Unit

Mulkeen, A. (2010) Teachers in Anglophone Africa: Issues in Teacher Supply, Training, and Management. Washington: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


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