Meritocracy: A Remedy to Addressing Social Injustices in Selecting Students to Public Higher Education in Malawi?
Keywords:equity, higher education, Malawi, meritocracy, quota system, social justice
This essay analyzes whether an ostensibly merit-based policy of selecting students to public higher education can act as a remedy to ameliorate social injustices in Malawi’s education system. We address this question through the lens of equity based on a broader discussion of ethnicity in Malawi. The paper is organized in the following sections. First, we provide an overview of the geography of Malawi. This is followed by a detailed review of the literature on the education system focusing on access and equity between the predecessor quota system and the current merit-based policy. The article concludes by arguing that merit-based policy is very likely to perpetuate rather than ameliorate social injustices in education, as the future of students attending under-resourced schools is in jeopardy to access public higher education. Therefore, we strongly recommend that the Malawi government consider re-adopting the quota system, which if designed carefully could serve to address social injustices in access to higher education.
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