If you are yearning to teach where you are most needed, where you can make the greatest impact, and where your efforts will be most appreciated, then you should consider teaching abroad in Malawi. This small but diverse African nation is looking for educators from around the world to fill its many vacant positions. There is a severe shortage of teachers throughout the country, yet despite a lack of resources, the government has committed a large part of its budget to education.
Known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” Malawi is famous for much more than its welcoming people. Located in the Great Rift Valley, Malawi has towering mountains, lush valleys, numerous wildlife reserves, and one of the world’s largest and most pristine lakes. While you teach in Malawi, you will get to know a side of Africa that few foreigners ever experience.
Since most of the population lives in small villages scattered around the countryside, you will likely find work in one of their rural public schools. In a village school, you will most certainly teach English as a second language as well as at least one other subject, such as math, science, art, or physical education.
These are wonderful opportunities to be immersed in the traditional life of Malawi. Since public education is free and there is a high demand for learning, you can expect large class sizes -- sometimes more than 150 students!
Private International Schools
If you are a certified teacher with several years of experience, you can pursue the opportunity to teach in one of Malawi’s many international schools. These schools offer the possibility to teach children of all ages in one of the country’s major cities. Instruction is in English and these schools typically follow the British curriculum. International schools offer an educational environment not too dissimilar from a private school in Europe or North America.
There are many language centers throughout the country with a need for TEFL certified instructors. In one of these centers, you will have the opportunity to teach both adults and children. Although most Malawians speak Chichewa as their native language, the country’s official language is English. Therefore, there is a high demand for English teachers in Malawi.
When to Apply for Jobs in Malawi
Most hiring is done between May and the start of the school year in August. Positions do open up from time to time during other months, so check regularly to see what opportunities are out there.
How to Apply for Jobs in Malawi
Many international teachers find their placement through one of the many NGOs and charitable organizations that operate throughout Malawi. These organizations will help facilitate the process and place you where your skills are needed most.
It is also possible to apply directly to private international schools. This can be a time-consuming process as each school has a somewhat different method for applying.
Average Salary for Teaching Jobs in Malawi
International schools offer the best compensation with monthly salaries of $1,500 to $2,000. This may also include accommodation, health insurance, and transportation costs. In a country with such a low cost of living, you will be able to live comfortably while saving much of your earnings.
Most jobs at language centers and government-run schools employ international teachers as unpaid volunteers. These almost always include housing and meals. There are also some positions that pay a few hundred dollars per month, which goes a long way to cover basic expenses.
A Bachelor’s degree is required to work in a public school or language center. While previous experience and a TEFL certification are not always required, both can be extremely helpful in managing a classroom of many students.
Being more competitive, international schools often require a teaching degree and at least two years of experience in the classroom.
Popular Destinations to Teach in Malawi
There is a need for teachers all over Malawi and you may very well find yourself teaching in a rural village. Living and teaching in a village will likely be an educational experience for you too as you’ll be expected to participate in the many aspects of community living
There is also a need for teachers in the Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, and Blantyre. Most of the country’s international schools are located in these cities of over one million people. Living and working in these bustling cities will immerse you in African urban life while providing a convenient springboard to many parks and outdoor adventures not far beyond
Visa & Sponsorship
Malawi offers several types of visas. The one you’ll want will depend on how long you stay in the country. They can range from seven days to up to a year. These visas can be obtained when you arrive in the country or in advance through a Malawian embassy, but come prepared to pay for it. A visa typically costs about $25 for each active month
For some programs, a work visa may be required once you are hired. Your school or program will help you with this process
Teacher Work Culture in Malawi
Schools in Malawi are seriously underfunded. You may find that you only have one book for every 50 students. Don’t let that deter you though! This is your chance to get creative. Teachers here find ways to do more with less and your ingenuity will go a long way
The country is dedicated to providing the best education it can. A significant amount of the national budget is dedicated to providing free education to all Malawian children and Malawian teachers here are dedicated educators.
Classroom Etiquette in Malawi
Don’t let the huge student to teacher ratio deter you. There will be other teachers and volunteers there to help. Malawian students are attentive and will listen when you speak, even if their English is limited. Get creative with your instruction and do your best with the limited resources. Sing and dance your way through a language barrier if you must
Since classes often combine students of different ages and abilities, it is normal for older students to help younger ones. Make use of these teacher’s helpers as they’ll show you what works in their school too
Health & Safety
Malawi is one of the safest countries in Africa. It has a very low crime rate and a welcoming attitude towards foreigners. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s best not to be out in a city after dark as this is when the occasional mugging does occur. It’s also best to stay off the roads at night to avoid a collision with another vehicle or a large animal in limited visibility conditions
The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend you roll up your sleeves and get vaccinated against typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, and influenza before you head to Malawi. The most deadly animal in the country is the mosquito, which can carry malaria, chikungunya, and dengue fever. Cover up and avoid being outside when they are most active
Medical services in much of Malawi are basic at best. You should think about getting evacuation insurance to protect you in case you need to leave for medical treatment