MCDE is a department of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology with its headquarters in Blantyre, Malawi. It has three sub offices: Mzuzu in the North, Lilongwe in the Centre and Blantyre in the South. MCDE's educational services cover the entire country. Each of the administrative districts of Malawi has at least an open secondary school (OSS) or study centre (SC). These are institutions where enrolled learners receive academic and administrative support.
MCDE was first set up as Malawi Correspondence College (MCC) in 1965. The mission of the College was to provide education and training through open and distance learning methods. The College started off as a correspondence department with a separate Schools Broadcasting Unit (SBU) in the same year to provide learner support through radio education programmes. The programmes complement and supplement primary, secondary school and teacher education courses. In 1973 the MCC and the SBU merged to become the Malawi Correspondence College and Broadcasting Unit (MCC & SBU). In 1987 the department was renamed to MCDE and continued to provide education and training through open and distance learning methods. Such education has been offered through open and distance learning methods supervised in Distance Education Centres (DECs) operating on single mode basis and Night Secondary Schools (NSSs) operating on a dual mode basis in government secondary schools. The College supervised the DECs, NSSs and distance learners in academic and administration matters from its regional offices. In 1998 the DECs became Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs) and began to report directly to Ministry Headquarters, whilst NSSs remained under MCDE. In 2002, the NSSs were converted to Open Secondary Schools (OSSs) and continued to operate in Government institutions: in secondary and some primary schools.
The objectives of the College have been to:
- provide formal education to school going age children who fail to secure places in the conventional system due to limited places.
- provide a second chance to adults who missed formal education during their youth
- upgrade teachers academically from one level to the other
- prevent a drain of much needed foreign exchange to correspondence colleges in the neighbouring and distant countries.
The College reintroduced primary school radio programmes with support from USAID on MBC between 2008 and 2012. In the same year, 2008, MCDE became a centre of specialisation in open and distance education at secondary school level. In 2011 through 2013 with support from African Development Bank through SADC MCDE conducted international training programmes in open and distance learning.