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 Education Advising

Education System Of Malawi

Education Advising 

Malawi operates on an 8– 4 - 4 systems:  

Primary School --8 years

Secondary School --4 years

University Bachelor’s Degree--4 years

Language: The official language of instruction throughout the Malawian educational system is English. Students may study in any of the three major local languages for most of the first 4 years of primary school after which English becomes the medium. The national language, Chichewa and other languages like French are taught as classroom subjects through at least the senior year in secondary schools. All textbooks and materials are otherwise in English.

Secondary School: Three types of institutions provide secondary school education in Malawi. These are Government Aided Mission schools, private schools and Distance Education centers also called Day schools.

After two years of Secondary education, students write a national exam called the Malawi Junior Certificate Examination (JCE). At the end of secondary school, students write another national exam, the Malawi School Certificate of Education Examination (MSCE). This exam allows the student to choose to take examinations in a minimum of six subjects and can take more, but it is the top six that are counted towards the final score. The top score that a student can receive on their MSCE is a 6, simply meaning that a student scored perfect A’s in the entire six subjects, in this case scores of 1’s in all six subjects. Grading for the MSCE is exceptionally tough. Less than 1% of the grades are 6 points or A’s. Thus B’s and C’s can be quite competitive grades. MSCE results are also used for selection of candidates for training courses and employment. Students who do very well in MSCE and pass the University of Malawi Entrance Examination are selected into University Education.

Selection to University of Malawi is very competitive because places are limited. Only a small percentage of successful candidates get selected for University Education. Some successful candidates who fail to get places at the University of Malawi find places in different Teachers Training, Technical and other colleges for career training courses. For those who do not enter any training college or school, the MSCE is terminal. These seek employment or get into self employment activities such as business.

Grading System:  The MSCE has 9 grades, 1 being the highest and 9 the lowest. To qualify for an MSCE certificate, a student should at least pass English and five other subjects, one of which must be at a credit level. The MSCE results for each subject are graded on a scale of 1 to 9. The significance of these grades is:      

1 & 2   = pass with distinction

3 -- 6   = Pass with credit

7 & 8    =Ordinary pass

9         = Fail

A pass at grades 1 to 6 is equivalent to a pass at G.C.E ordinary level etc.

The Malawi National Examination Board recommends the following equivalence of MSCE grades to the GSCE and GCE grades.

MSCE            GSCE              GCE ‘O’ LEVEL                                              

1 & 2             A                        A

3 & 4             B                        B

5 & 6             C                       C                                

7                  D                       D

8                  E                       E         

9                  F                       F

Marking of Exams: Marking of National Exams is done by experienced subject teachers who are especially trained in marking techniques. In Malawi, examinations are centrally marked under the direct supervision of the Chief Examiner and Assistant Chief Examiner. Before live marking of a paper takes place, each Chief Examiner and his markers hold a standardization meeting. This meeting discusses the question paper, question by question. The marking scheme presented by the setter of the paper is amended during the standardization process.     

University Education:  Tertiary education in Malawi is provided by the University of Malawi, University of Mzuzu, Government training colleges which offer courses in Teaching, Forestry, Agriculture, Technical subjects and Secretarial skills, among others. Selection of school leavers for university diploma or degree courses is done by the University Office in Malawi.  The following levels of academic achievement are accepted as minimum entry requirements for degree courses.

Ordinary Level:  These are Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE), the General School Certificate (GSCE), the International General School Certificate (IGSCE), and the General Certificate of Education (GCE) or their equivalents.

Advanced Level: At least grade C in three subjects preferred in the faculty in which a candidate is applying. Admission is in year two of the degree program. If however, a candidate does not posses the required subjects but a minimum of three C’s, admission is in year one. 

The University has the following constituent colleges:

Chancellor College,

Bunda College of Agriculture,

The Malawi Polytechnic,

Kamuzu College of Nursing

College of Medicine. (This trains doctors)

Malawian university admission is highly competitive, especially in the field such as medicine, engineering, and law

Admission Requirements:   The minimum university standards for admission are 6 credit passes which should include English.

Testing:  The SAT is offered 5 times a year at 3 different locations. The GRE is offered 4 times whereas GMAT is not offered at all in Malawi. TOEFL is offered 6 times as well. All these tests are offered as paper based tests in Malawi.

Educational Advising:  The Educational Advising Centers in Lilongwe is sponsored by the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy. It serves over 6,000 students every month. Our job is to provide the most accurate, objective and comprehensive information on higher education in the US and to help Malawian students access such important information. It will be our pleasure to work with you in helping Malawian students who qualify to enroll at your institution. We welcome any chance of receiving your school’s catalogue, view book, video and CD – ROM, mailed to:

Educational Advisor

Department of State

2280 Lilongwe Place

Washington DC 20521.

Please feel free to contact or email the Educational Advisor at  

Phone: 011+265+ (1) 772-222

Fax:     011+265 + (1) 771-142

We do welcome visits, recruiting or otherwise, and can easily organize an audience for your presentation. Come and visit Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa.