We need to look critically at our education system: only less than 10% of Malawian children finish primary education. And most of them are (functionally) illiterate. And that is only primary, secondary is less graduates. Let alone tertiary. It is clear our system does not do what we can expect to stay relevant in the 21st century, when all the world is getting more and more educated.
I am not just talking of more teachers (hire every one of those graduated teachers, who are now jobless, please!). And more textbooks (think of the trick that Sam Mpasu pulled on our learners). I am proposing to rethink the way we teach. What we do is pre 1964 English education. The whole world has developed their systems. In developed countries you do not see a teacher in front of the class writing on a blackboard (or a whiteboard) very much (and never under a tree!). There is a lot of project work, where learners learn to cooperate and work independently. There are projects outside the classroom, and a lot of interactive stuff.
The method of taking a group of learners outside the community in a specially designed place to be taught by someone dispensing knowledge like a product is very unMalawian (and unAfrican by the way) The African way of learning was in the community, on the job. Someone would show a younger or less educated person how to perform a certain task. At night by the fireside traditional stories would pass on the traditional culture. And the stories would be adapted to the current situation. Dances would show the right ways of a certain people. Problems would be solved communally: a group would get together and decide. (The headman would facilitate, but a headman who did not pay attention to the needs of others could be removed.) This way new knowledge would be generated in a communal way.
Hold on, I am not proposing to overthrow the whole curriculum again. We did that (Unicef did that!) recently, and we cannot keep pushing our teachers around all the time. But we can look at other teaching-learning situations. Like NICE, like adult education. Remember: adult education is for those people who did not finish the regular education, so these are mostly people with different needs than the traditional teaching method we took from our colonial masters (who since then moved on while we stagnated!)
We should look at more than the traditional English classroom method for our school learners and students, but most of all, we need more interactive projects with communities to develop the right knowledge for the right situation.