Country Background: Malawi
A small country by African standards, Malawi occupies an area the size of Pennsylvania and is wedged in the southeast corner of the sub-Saharan continent between the much larger countries of Mozambique and Zambia. The World Bank lists Malawi as one of the ten poorest countries in the world. Its annual per capita income is only $200.
Following independence in 1964, after nearly a century of British colonial rule, Malawians lived for another thirty years under the authoritarian, one-party regime of "Life President" Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. In 1993, facing growing internal political unrest and consequent economic pressure from international donor nations, Dr Banda was forced to open Malawi to multiparty democracy. Free and fair elections were held in 1994 and again in 1999 and 2004.
Malawi is a nation of 13 million people, half of whom are under 16 years old. Even though nearly 90% of its youngest children now attend primary school, fewer than 20% go on to secondary school. Malawi's teachers are grossly underpaid and under-trained, and most schools lack even basic supplies, equipment, and furniture. The HIV/AIDS epidemic spreading across Africa has not ignored Malawi; recent reports indicate that as much as 30-40% of the population is infected, and 600 teachers die every year from the disease.