Data Cart

Your data extract

0 variables
0 samples
View Cart
Educational attainment, Malawi

Codes and Frequencies

Can't find the category you are looking for? Try the Detailed codes

Explore how IPUMS created this variable


      class Educmw:public Editor {

    Educmw(VarPointer varInfo) : Editor(varInfo) {}
    void edit() {

        long a = getRecoded();
        switch (dataSet) {
        case dataset_id::mw2008a:
            if (MW2008A_0436() == 99 && MW2008A_0435() == 0)
                a = 10;




EDUCMW indicates the person's educational attainment in Malawi in terms of the level of schooling completed.

Comparability — General

Malawi has an 8-6 education system, comprising 8 years in the primary (standard 1-8) and 6 years in the secondary level (form 1-6). The educational attainment variable is standardized to this system, established in the 60's, based on conversion charts included in the enumeration instructions for all census samples.

Completion of secondary usually implies 4 years, until form 4, and it leads to the GCE "O" level (ordinary). Some schools offer form 5 and form 6, which lead to the GCE "A" level (advanced). Post-secondary education includes teacher training, technical and vocational training, and university studies.

The variable is broadly comparable across samples. Educational attainment is recorded for the highest level attended irrespective of whether or not the person passed the any examination at that level. The universe in Malawi 1987 and 1998 census is persons age 5 or older, while in Malawi 2008 is non-visitors age 3 or older who ever attended school. In Malawi 2008 census, preschool education and other forms of education are identified as additional categories and there are relatively more years of study reported in the secondary and university levels (some of them exceeding the expected number according to the education system).

In addition to EDUCMW, the 1998 and 2008 samples include related unharmonized variables indicating the highest education qualification obtained. Students take the Primary school leaving certificate (PSLC) exam at the end of standard 8, the Junior certificate examination (JCE) in form 2, and the Malawi school certificate of education (MSCE) in form 4. The MSCE is required for university entrance and other forms of post-secondary education.


  • Malawi 1987: Persons age 5+
  • Malawi 1998: Persons age 5+
  • Malawi 2008: Non-visitors age 3+


  • Malawi: 1987, 1998, 2008