Malawi’s education system is in a state of crisis. While the government has made a commitment to providing universal education and enrollment levels have increased over the years, drop-out rates remain high, especially for girls, and there simply are not enough classrooms, qualified teachers and resources to keep up with the demand. Primary school is currently “free,” but students are not provided meals, and families must cover the cost of uniforms, books and supplies, which is simply too expensive for many in the Luwinga community. Most students will not make it to secondary school, but if they do, tuition ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars each year. Far too often, children are sent home for not paying school fees, or are kept home to help with household chores and work.
As the quality of education in these classrooms declines each year, students increasingly rely on Kwithu’s after-school tutoring program to fill in the gaps, and scholarships make it possible for children to stay in school. By working with the same children and their families year after year, Kwithu Women’s Group members can identify those with the most academic promise and after passing rigorous entrance exams, these high achieving students receive full scholarships as boarding students at Mzuzu International Academy, an internationally accredited secondary school.