Meritocracy: A Remedy to Addressing Social Injustices in Selecting Students to Public Higher Education in Malawi?


  • Mastano Dzimbiri Miami University
  • Joel Malin Miami University



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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Author Biographies

Mastano Dzimbiri, Miami University

Ph.D student in the Department of Educational Leadership 

Joel Malin, Miami University

Associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership


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How to Cite

Dzimbiri, M., & Malin, J. (2023). Meritocracy: A Remedy to Addressing Social Injustices in Selecting Students to Public Higher Education in Malawi?. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 15(4), 106–118.