How do we increase our productivity?

There are many proposals, but none is giving the desired results. It seems we have to deal with a dragon with many heads here. We have to look into short and long term strategies in order to get the country to move.

I propose: short term, push on with the public service reform program. It is clear that a none-functioning corrupt public service is not creating a conducive environment for economic development. For now the implementation of the program has been below expectation. Renaming a number of PSs into directors but keeping them in the same position and salary scale does not translate into meaningful reform. It is only cosmetic.

A big problem is that we have policies, and often very good policies, in document form, but not being implemented. The feared implementation gap is a gaping ravine in Malawi. We need to reform the public service into a vibrant hard working organization that delivers services to the public. One problem is that every ambitious public servant tries to get to Capital Hill as early as possible in his/her career path, in order to move up. We need to reform the public service, so that we do not get all talented people producing paper plans at international or lakeside workshops. We need to get the ambitious and talented people to work in the districts to implement plans. So that we do not only have paper policies, but meaningful change on the ground. To get people to do this, we need to change the career path, in such a way that people who successfully implement policies make promotion faster than those who produce paper plans. We need to give promotion, and place highly qualified and paid people, not on Capital Hill, but close to the population, where the policies are given hands and feet, and made to walk the (paper) talk.

Secondly, we need to vigorously fight corruption. That will kill two birds with one stone:

Firstly we will stop the leakage of funds tapped by corruption, and we will get the corrupt types out of the public service, so the service delivers instead of being hampered by those people only looking for their own benefit instead of doing the job they were hired to do.

Secondly, it will bring back donor confidence and get donor funds streaming into the economy again. This will greatly empower government to deliver development.

For the long term, we need to overhaul our education system, so our children are being educated to a high degree. The other day I heard a South African teacher complaining she has 51 learners in one class, and she cannot do a quality job with more than 40. In Europe many countries even cut their class size to a maximum of 30 or lower. Here in Malawi we have an average (not maximum) of 92 learners per teacher. That makes a quality education impossible, and with a lowly educated population we cannot develop. We have a horrible primary education completion rate of less than 10 percent! This shows how the country cannot develop. The president started a good initiative with community colleges, but it is not enough by a long stretch. By the same token our universities are not good enough either. The University of Malawi ended second lowest of all universities in Africa (and African universities are the lowest rated in the world). (After some reconsidering they found a way to recalculate and move Unima up a few places, not by improving the quality of the education, but by a numbers trick). We need to improve our education system from Early Child Development to adult education and everything in between, to have a well educated capable population that can deliver quality life for their families, and development to the country.


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