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Learning milieu for primary school teachers in Malawi: Perspectives, practices and policies

Fritz Friday Robert Kadyoma, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Malawi Ministry of Education's Policy and Investment Framework (PIF) (1999–2009) on Basic Education highlights four major areas, as targets for educational reform. These areas are access, equity, efficiency and quality. One of the strategies identified to help improve quality is the provision of professional development support services to teachers. However, it is not clear as to what conditions in the teacher-learning milieu facilitate effective professional development of teachers. This study investigated such conditions. Ethnographic approaches were used to investigate the problem in two districts, of Chiradzulu and Balaka, in the Southern Region of Malawi. Focus group discussions (FGDs), individual interviews, and case studies were principal research methods. Forty teachers, eleven head teachers, one Primary Education Adviser (PEA), four Assistant Center Coordinators (ACCOs) and six education officials participated in the study. Overall findings show that Malawi has structures and opportunities necessary for teacher-learning purposes. However, these structures and opportunities are neither well developed nor effectively coordinated to facilitate efficiency in the implementation of the teacher-learning programs. Consequently, the teacher-learning system is fragmented, incoherent and quite contradictory. Specific findings of the investigation include the following: (1) Teachers are interested in professional development, but they are not consulted enough on matters concerning their professional development. (2) Implementation strategies of some teacher-learning programs are perceived as redundant and overloaded. (3) Teachers and heads who participated in the study did not demonstrate knowledge of policies regarding their professional development; and, (4) numerous systemic problems abound that compromise the provision of professional development opportunities to teachers. These issues call for a rationalization of the teacher-learning system, and the institutionalization of the teacher-learning programs. To that effect, the researcher recommends that (1) A national strategy for teacher education, now being developed, needs to be faithfully implemented, in order to provide professional development to teachers in a systematic and concerted manner. (2) Ministry should create a forum for providers of teacher-learning programs and services, where issues pertaining to teacher learning can be thrashed out, on a regular basis; and, (3) ways of consulting and targeting teachers directly, for professional development, need to be sought.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Kadyoma, Fritz Friday Robert, "Learning milieu for primary school teachers in Malawi: Perspectives, practices and policies" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136743.