Secondary Schools in Malawi

Only primary education is free in Malawi.  Secondary education has to be paid for. Secondary education begins in Form 1 and ends at Form 4. Technically, a student could end secondary school at age 18 if he or she never has to retake a school year. This is rare.  In the school year 2013 – 14 out of a class of 100 Form One learners at Malowa Community Day Secondary School, there were only three students who were 14 years old and the rest were older.


Salima Secondary School linked to High Weald Academy





Malawi National Examination Board (Maneb)

Junior Certificate Of Education (JCE).

Under the current system children in Malawi at the end of Form 2 sit the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE).

Students must pass at least 6 subjects including English.  The subjects include the following:

Agriculture,Bible Knowledge, Biology, Chemistry, Chichewa, English, 
Geography, Life Skills, Mathematics, Physical Science, Social
and Developmental Studies


A = Excellent B= Very Good C= Good D= Average F= Fail

In 2015 the pass rate was 67.8%.

Future Changes  

The Malawi Government will, from 2016/2017 academic year phase out the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examination. The last JCE examination to be administered will, therefore, be in 2016 for the current Form 2 students.

Press release download:

Phasing out of the JCE Examinations


Malawi School Certificate Of Education (MSCE)

At the end of Form 4 the students sit the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE). This exam allows the student to choose to take examinations in a minimum of six subjects. They can take more, however it is the top six that are counted towards their final score.

Grading System

The MSCE has 9 grades, 1 being the highest and 9 the lowest. 

1 = distinction, 2 = distinction, 3 = credit, 4 = credit, 5 = credit, 6 = credit, 7 = pass, 8 = pass, 9 = fail

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 top score that a student can receive on their MSCE is a 6, simply meaning that a student scored perfect A’s in six subjects i.e. grades of 1s and 2s which are also required to go to university.

In 2015 the pass rate was 55.2%.

Class Size

At present the government’s recommendation for class size is 50, but due to lack of space and teachers, many schools have to put two classes together making a maximum of 100 students.


The teachers are moved around by the government or recommended for posts by the head teacher. The head teacher is able to make recommendations for promotion once a teacher has proved his or her ability to take on further responsibilities.

Teachers often live in staff accommodation on or near to the school to save transport and housing costs. Many schools see building staff accommodation as a priority as teachers do not often originate from the local area.


A teacher with a degree earns from 80,000 kwacha a month (approximately £133). Teachers who only have the MSCE would earn considerably less. Head teachers could earn up to 120,000 kwacha a month (approximately £200).

Secondary School Sponsorship Programme

Secondary education in Malawi is very expensive, but for only £15 each month a child can be supported through secondary school and look forward to a better future. At the moment Starfish Malawi have over 120 sponsored students on the programme.

Please follow this link to find out how you can also sponsor a child.