Pre-higher education

Duration of compulsory education

Age of entry: 5
Age of exit: 13

Structure of school system

Primary school lasts for 8 years and goes from age 5 to 13. At the end, the Primary School Leaving Certificate (PSLCE) is awarded

Junior secondary school is forms I and II and is for 2 years. Age 13-15. Certificate is the Malawi Junior Certificate (JCE).

Secondary school is form III-IV and the age is 16-17 with the certificate being the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE)

Description of secondary school system

Secondary school comprises four years. The first two years are spent preparing for the Malawi Junior Certificate Examination (JCE). Students who pass this exam may continue with a further two years to be eligible to take the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) to complete secondary school.

Higher Education System

Tertiary education can be obtained in Malawi at the University of Malawi, Mzuzu University, Government Training Colleges, and Teacher Training Colleges at both the diploma and undergraduate degree level. The University of Malawi system comprises a polytechnic, agriculture college and a university.

Many types of higher education institutions in country

Type: polytechnic
Type: university
Type: teacher training college
Type: technical college

Administrative Structure of Higher Education

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology
Private Bag 328
Lilongwe 3
Tel: 265-1-789-382/422
Fax: 265-1-788-064/184

University of Malawi
University Office
PO Box 278
Tel: 265-1-526-622
Fax: 265-1-524-760

Academic year

Classes start: January
Classes end: November
This is often delayed due to lack of finances



Stages and Organization

The following diplomas and certificates are offered after secondary school completion: education, engineering in civil/electrical/mechanical, architecture, management, business studies secretarial and administration, electronic engineering, metal fabrication and welding technology, construction technology and quantity surveying, mechanical and production technology, automobile technology, telecommunications, industrial laboratory technology, information technology, business information systems, technical education, clinical officer, medical assistance, dental therapy, radiography, environmental health, biomedical sciences, pharmacy, community health nursing, nurse/midwife, and psychiatric nursing. Certificates are normally completed in one year and diplomas normally in three years. Student may continue with a diploma course after satisfactory completion of a certificate or may apply to university after satisfactory completion of a diploma course.

University level

Stage 1

On completion of undergraduate studies, students may obtain Bachelors Degrees in Agriculture, Education, Humanities, Social Science, Public Administration, Science, Nursing, Environmental Science, Environmental Health, Science Technology Education, Commerce, Engineering (mechanical, electrical, civil), Architecture, Journalism and Medicine. Completion of an undergraduate degree is done in 4 years except for medicine, engineering and journalism, which is completed in 5 years.

Stage 2

There is currently a postgraduate degree in management course offered at the University of Malawi.

Teacher Education


Student intending to train as primary school teachers must have a minimum of a JCE certificate but preferably an MSCE certificate with a pass in English and Math. They then enter into a three year integrated in-service teaching program. There are six primary school teacher training colleges throughout Malawi, which are all affiliated with the Ministry of Education.


Secondary school teachers are trained to a degree level at the University of Malawi. Entrance into the teacher training degree program is the same as entrance into the university. The Domasi Institute of Education, affiliated with the University, offers a three year diploma course in secondary education. The requirements for admission is an MSCE certificate with an aggregate score of 10 in the major and minor teaching subjects (i.e. math & science).

Grading system


Malawi GCSE equivalent

1-2 distinction A
3-4 credit B
5-6 credit C
7 ordinary pass D
8 ordinary pass E
9 fail F


Highest: 70-100% distinction
Middle: 60-70% credit
Low: 40-60% ordinary pass
Fail: <40%

College of Medicine/ Kamuzu College of Nursing

Highest: 75-100% distinction
Middle: 65-74% credit
Low: 50-65% ordinary pass
Fail: <50%

Admission to Higher Education

University: must have MSCE certificate with 6 credits including English and pass the University entrance exam.

Alternate credentials

Holders of an advanced education (i.e. diploma) with a grade of C or better in three subjects in the area which they want to study can enter in year two. Candidates who do not possess the required subjects but have a minimum of 3 Cís can enter in year one.

Admission into medical school

Must have completed two years of university and obtained a 60% in chemistry and biology and either physics or math (3 subjects in total).

Admission for foreign students

Foreign students are accepted in the University of Malawi system, however the Medical College does not currently accept foreign students due to lack of accommodation.

Last update: April 4, 2003