During schooling years, stunted children are more likely to repeat grades and drop out of school, thus reducing their income-earning capability later in life.
There is no single cause for repetition and dropout, however, there is substantive research suggesting that students who were stunted before the age of five are more likely to underperform in school.
Children who suffered from under nutrition before 5 years of age are more likely to repeat grades, as compared to those who were not affected by under nutrition.
Based on official information provided by the Ministry of Education, 818,138 children repeated grades in 2012. Using data on increased risk of repetition among stunted students, the Cost of Hunger report estimates that the repetition rate for stunted children was 20.6 percent, while the repetition rate for non-stunted children was 15.2 percent, i.e. an incremental differential risk of 5.4 percentage points for stunted children.
Progressive education is a key driver of human capital, and keeping children longer in school is a key element of inclusive development and economic growth.
Repetition in schooling has direct cost implications for families and the school system. Students who repeat grades generate an incremental cost to the educational system, as they require twice as many resources to repeat the year. In addition, the caretakers have to pay for an additional year of education.
Increasing the educational level and maximizing the productive capacity of the population dividend are key elements to boost competitiveness and development in the country. This represents a critical opportunity in Malawi where the population under 15 years is estimated to be 46 percent of the total population.