Malawi has a population of 15.3 million people and 36.7% are under the age of 24. Education expenditure is US $8.6 per student in primary school and health is US $26 per capita.


Malawi follows a formal education system where primary education lasts for 8 years and secondary education for 4. The adult literacy rate in Malawi has witnessed little change since 2005 and of the population 15 and over, 21% have never attended school. The majority of comprehensive sexuality education content is delivered in a stand-alone curriculum at the primary school level where the Life Skills Education series is used from grades 2-8. From Form 1-4 Life Skills and Sexual and Reproductive Health Education is delivered. A 2010 study conducted by UNESCO, UNFPA and UNICEF found that there was a general lack of teaching and learning resources, inadequate training of teachers and accompanied by a lack of knowledge of the sexual and reproductive issues, including HIV transmission.


The National Standards for Youth Friendly Health Services guide the provision of services to young people. Despite the fact that high awareness of sexually transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS exists among young people, only a small percentage has undergone an HIV test. The high prevalence of child marriage in the country exposes young girls to the risk of early pregnancy, HIV and STIs. In addition to this, teenage pregnancy, and the lower status of girls, increases the rate of school drop out rates for females.

The National Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Policy (2009) references the need to incorporate issues such as basic emergency obstetric/neonatal care, cervical cancer screening, young people-friendly health services, antiretroviral therapy and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. The Malawi National AIDS Policy ensures access to optional HIV testing for all pregnant women. The National Plan of Action for Scaling up Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV Prevention Initiatives for Young People (2008-2012) combine all major HIV prevention initiatives for young people that are currently ongoing.

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