Ecucation sector in Nkhotakota:
Education in the district is being provided at four levels namely; the Nursery or pre-school education, Primary education, Secondary and vocational or tertiary education.
As of 2009, Nkhotakota has 141 public primary schools and 15 private primary schools in the district. For proper management, the district is divided into 11 zones managed by 11 Primary Education Advisors.
The total enrolment in public primary schools has increased from 74,856 in 2006 to 91047 in 2009. 52 % were girls and 48 % boys of the enrolled learners. The large increase in enrolment came after successful sensitization campaign (by both government and NGOs) to reduce child labour and the importance of keeping kids in school – especially since enrolment dropped after the 2004 hunger. Unfortunately the increase in enrolment has heavily affected the quality of education.
The number of teachers in the district has dropped from 1065 in 2006 to 1021 in 2009. The decrease has been due to several factors like; deaths, retirements and transfers to other departments yet there have been no recruitments since 2000. About 31 percent of the teachers are female, remaining 69 percent are men. The shortage of teachers is also compounded by the HIV and AIDS pandemic which is claiming the lives of most of the teachers. HIV and AIDS is also a cause of a lot of the absenteeism among teachers who are themselves ill or have to attend to spouses or relatives who are ill.
The pupil/teacher ratio ranges from 1:63 at the Boma zone to 1:118 like at Mkaika zone. This wide range is attributed to the fact that in some areas where a lot of social amenities are available, teachers prefer those areas than remote areas like Kasitu where most of social amenities are not available. Latest figures indicates an average pupil/teacher ratio of 89:1 for the district as a whole (2011 national target is 60:1). The district had 894 permanent classrooms which gives a classrom/pupil ratio of 1:101 (2011 national target is 1:75).
The district has 29 secondary schools. Sixteen of them are Community Schools (CDSS), 3 are conventional secondary schools and 10 private secondary schools. The district had 29 secondary schools and about 160 classrooms (11 of them temporary) in August 2008. Out of the 19 public secondary schools, only 5 schools have laboratories.
At the secondary school level, very few children (22 %) of the secondary school going age are in school. .Nkhotakota has 12,621 boys and 13,302 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 (2008 estimate from 1998 NSO) who are supposed to be in secondary school, only 3402 (27 %) boys and 2271 (17 %) girls are at school. The reasons are many ranging from cultural beliefs to inadequate secondary school places to carter for the population in primary school.
The pupil/teacher ratio is 23:1. If you consider the pupil/qualified teacher ratio it is 63:1 - and therefore below the national recommendation of 50 to 1. Most of the qualified teachers are in the three conventional schools, leaving very few qualified teachers unevenly distributed in 16 CDSSs. The most serious problem is lack of trained teachers. Only 40 % of the teachers are qualified. Other problems include; inadequate teachers’ houses, lack of teaching and learning materials, high dropout from school.