Safe Learning Environments for Reading: A Qualitative Study of Primary Schools Reading Environments in Malawi

In February 2017, MERIT conducted a baseline study in a randomized sample of 86 government primary schools. This study, the National Assessment of School Inclusion and Safety (NASIS), was designed to collect data on how gender-responsiveness, inclusion, positive reinforcement, and physical and emotional safety related with one another and how they affected children learning to read. The NASIS results showed that teachers’ and head teachers’ perceptions of school environments and relationships were different from learners’, particularly regarding issues of physical safety. There were also important differences between what teachers and headteachers said was taking place and what data collectors observed about teachers’ and learners’ behaviors in the schools and the classrooms. Further, while teachers and headteachers reported being supportive of the official policies related to all four elements, NASIS 2017 data indicated they were less sure of how to implement inclusive education and positive reinforcement and discipline policies.