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Falling Behind

Mismanagement of Funds and A Lack of Accessible Financial Assistance Information Put Students with Disabilities at Risk in Malawi

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In January 2021, Malawi launched its new version of Malawi 2063, a plan to transform Malawi from one of the poorest nations in the world to upper middle-income status by 2063. In his latest report, DJP Fellow Duster Lucius examines how the country’s lack of inclusive education will make it harder for Malawi to achieve this ambitious goal. While Malawi’s Disability Act mandates that 10 percent of the budget for student financial assistance (scholarships, loans, subsidies) go to students with disabilities, mismanagement of the Constituent Development Fund (CDF) – the money the government gives to members of parliament to facilitate development in their constituencies – has made it difficult for students with disabilities to access these funds. What’s more, information about the program is often inaccessible, and the government has not been proactive enough in reaching out to poorer, more rural communities, where the need is greatest. As a result, many Malawian students with disabilities are falling behind in their education – or dropping out altogether. “In this fourth year, there are some challenges that I meet,” says Leonard Malamulo, a high school student at St. Patrick’s Secondary School in Blantyre. “The main thing is lack of school fees and money for daily basic needs.”

Editing Assistance by Desmond LaFave

Photo of Duster Lucius.

Filmmaker: Duster Lucius

Duster Lucius is a 19-year-old disability youth activist who is DeafBlind (partial hearing, completely blind). Malawian by nationality and Yao by tribe, he is a national youth coordinator at the Visual Hearing Impairment Membership Association (VIHEMA), an organization advocating for the rights and needs of persons who are DeafBlind in Malawi. At VIHEMA, Lucius advocates for the inclusion of youth who are DeafBlind in all the Malawian government's strategic development activities. Aside from his advocacy work, he currently studies at St. Patrick's National Secondary School in Mzedi.

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