The Use and usefulness of school grants: lessons from Malawi

United Nations Children's Fund
Country notes. Education sector planning
42 p.

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In a growing number of countries, a significant reform in educational management is under way: schools which in earlier years had very little or no say in financial management now receive grants directly from central authorities. The actual impact of school grants on quality and equity needs deeper investigation because it is strongly influenced by the design and implementation of grants, the simple existence of such grants does not guarantee success. IIEP-UNESCO and UNICEF coordinated a research programme in Eastern and Southern Africa from 2010 to 2012, in order to better understand how the school grants policy is implemented in and by different schools, and to learn what its real contribution is to the grand policy objectives it is intended to serve. The research covered Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, and Uganda, through a collaboration with Ministries of Education, national research institutes, and the Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD, South-Africa). In Malawi, the research was implemented by researchers from Centre for Education Research and Training (CERT), the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the UNICEF Country Office in Malawi. The present study examines the use and usefulness of this school grants policy in Malawi, with specific attention given to six key themes: the policy formulation and dissemination process, criteria and mechanisms for grant distribution, the actual use of the funds at the school level, the existence of control mechanisms, and the contributions of grants to access, equity and quality. The last chapter provides a set of recommendations for improvement of each grant.