Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Malawi

Improving Secondary Education Completion Rates among Girls and Other Vulnerable Students

20/06/2018 - 11:13
Education and Research

This project aims to contribute towards increased enrolment, retention and completion rates in secondary school particularly for female and other vulnerable students (OV). The project is mobilizing, establishing and training community structures to support girls education, in particular those who dropped out of school. Among the structures that have been established are; Mother groups, Area and Village Development Committees, Male Champions etc.

The project is also providing direct support to girls through provision of bursaries, establishment of School Gender Based Violence reporting/case management structures, and also establishing peer-learning structures within the schools. Capacity of School management structures are being strengthened for implementation of action plans for retention of girls and other vulnerable students.


Total Cost (EUR): 1 250 000

EU contracted amount (EUR): 1 000 000

Duration: December 2016 - December 2019

Implementing organisation: OXFAM Malawi

Funding Instrument: European Development Fund (EDF)

Benefitting zone: Malawi


Story: ISEM is creating a safe learning environment for female and other vulnerable students in secondary schools

"This project has adopted mutually reinforcing strategies at levels of the learners themselves, schools and community support structures at district and national level. We believe that all these efforts will increase the number of girls enrolling and completing secondary school. Through the provision of bursaries, this project will contribute to high retention and completion rate among girls."

Lingalireni Mihowa, Deputy Country Director-OXFAM Malawi



Malawi adult literacy rate is around 60% and fewer than 40% of females and 60% of males aged 25+ years have had any secondary education. Appallingly, females make up 39% of all students at tertiary level mostly due to limited boarding facilities and fewer female students gaining the required grades. The proportion of girls and boys in secondary school is at 46% to 54%, respectively. There are several factors behind high school drop-out rates: early marriages perpetrated by deep rooted social-cultural beliefs have been known to negatively influence girls’ enrolment and survival in school.



  • To contribute towards increased enrolment, retention and completion rates at secondary school particularly for female and vulnerable students (OVs).



  • Reduced negative socio-cultural norms affecting secondary completion rates among female and other vulnerable students.
  • Improved and safe learning environment for female and other vulnerable students in secondary school.



It feels good to be back in school

"I dropped out of school in 2015 due to pregnancy. After two years, I was traced by a group of women who encouraged me to go back to school and introduced me to the ISEM Project. I am happy to be back to school and being supported with a bursury by this project. I can now see a bright future ahead of me. I am confident that I will be able to support my siblings and even my child in school. I encourage my friends who dropped out of school because of pregnancies and early marriages to seek opportunities of going back to school. Early pregnancies do not pay. I have been through it and I know what I am talking about. Nothing feels better for me like being back in school" 



  • 2 400 female and other vulnerable students to directly benefit from the project.
  • 36 000 households to benefit from socio-economic interventions undertaken by the project.
  • 1 200 females to have improved knowledge in life skills, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and menstrual hygiene management.
  • Project to lead to 90% completion rates for targeted females/OVs and 90% increase in awareness on school Gender Based Violence and the reporting mechanisms.



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