By Wanangwa Mtawali
Ten thousand teachers trained under Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) 10 and 11 and Open Distance Learning (ODL) 5 in 2016 have asked government to employ them immediately or issue them with their certificates to seek jobs elsewhere.
Representatives of these teachers said this on Tuesday in Lilongwe at a press conference jointly held with Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) and Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM).
The teachers, on government’s fully funded IPTE and ODL, have not been deployed to work since they completed their training, a situation which makes them live miserably.
But in what is assumed as government’s swift move to counter the teachers press briefing, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement on Tuesday morning, saying the process of recruiting both primary and secondary school teachers has commenced.
Speaking at the press conference, one of the teachers representatives Herbert Phambala said government is torturing them.
“Why did they train us in the first place? Honestly, we cannot continue living like plebeians without an income to sustain our lives. Government must give us our certificates so we would look for employment elsewhere”.
Added Phambala, “It is common knowledge that shortage of teachers in our schools is just too much. Government should have quickly recruited us to improve the teacher to pupil ratio which is very bad at the moment”.
According to CSEC Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe and TUM President Willie Malimba, the teacher to pupil ratio in some schools is 1 to 110 or even 1 to over 200.
In its statement signed by Principal Secretary Justin Saidi, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology says the commencement of recruitment of teachers follows the passing of the 2018/19 budget where the Malawi Government committed to recruit 10,000 primary school and 500 secondary school teachers.
According to the statement, this recruitment takes into consideration all teachers under IPTE 10 and 11 and ODL 5.
“It must also be noted that the sum of the three cohorts is less than our allocation of 10,000 primary school teachers. This, therefore, entails that Nobody from the above mentioned cohorts shall be left behind,” reads the statement.
It adds, “This recruitment further takes into consideration Government’s commitment to reduce the high Pupil to Qualified Teacher Ratio (PQTR) between teachers and learners in the country with a goal of improving the quality of education and also improving the welfare of our teachers”.
However, Kondowe has brushed aside the statement, saying government wants to paint a picture that it is doing something when it is actually doing nothing.
“How would government say it has started recruiting the teachers when it has not even appointed commissioners of the Local Government Civil Service Commission which is legally mandated to handle this process? Did the appointment of the commissioners also have to wait for the passing of the budget? Really?” queried Kondowe.
According to the CSEC Executive Director, government’s delay to recruit the 2016 IPTE 10 and 11 and ODL 5 teachers is negligence of the highest order and a gross misplacement of priorities.
“When it put these people on training, government should have planned in advance by allocating enough money towards the recruitment of the teachers. Otherwise, this is unfair treatment to innocent people some of who have families to look after,” he said.