Educationalists hail govt for recruitment of 4,000 teachers
Top educationalists have praised the government's decision to hire auxiliary teachers in order to address the country's high teacher-to-learner ratio in public schools.
Malawi: Dr Elizabeth Meke of the University of Malawi (UNIMA) and her civil society counterpart, Benedicto Kondowe, have praised the government's decision to hire auxiliary teachers in order to address the country's high teacher-to-learner ratio in public schools, writes Watipaso Mzungu.
The Malawi Education Reform Programme (MERP) announced on Monday this week that it will hire 4,125 auxiliary teachers from IPTE Cohort 13 and part of IPTE Cohort 14.
The recruited auxiliary teachers, according to the ministry's Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa, will be placed in various public primary schools across the country's 34 education districts.
He said: “The temporary contract period for this engagement is one academic year (2022/2023) and is renewable subject to the availability of funding opportunities. The temporary engagement of the auxiliary teachers forms part of efforts by the Government to reduce the high teacher-to-learner ratios across the country.”
Meke, in response to the news, stated that it will help reduce the teacher-to-student ratio in Malawi's public schools, particularly in rural areas.
"This is very commendable because it addresses some of the gaps in the education sector. Recruiting auxiliary teachers will also improve the quality of service delivery in the education sector," she said.
Kondowe, for one, stated that, while this is a temporary measure, the recruited auxiliary teachers will be critical in improving educational quality.
He urged the government to consider making auxiliary teachers full-time employees in the future, emphasising that better teacher recruitment and deployment strategies can directly contribute to SDG 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all (UNESCO, 2016).
"SDG 4 recognises the importance of teacher recruitment through target 4. c, which seeks to substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers by 2030," said Kondowe (United Nations, 2015: 22). Target 4.5 focuses on equal access to education, which results from effective and equitable teacher deployment (United Nations, 2015).
"Some of the difficulties in recruiting teachers include: knowing how many teachers you have; predicting and deploying the number of teachers required; attracting quality teaching candidates; and inconsistent recruitment policies that lack proper processes to calculate the required number of teachers or their specific qualifications. For the reasons stated above, the government should promote a consistent teacher recruitment policy and planning agenda."
The recruitment of auxiliary teachers comes just a few weeks after President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera stated his government's commitment to maintaining allocations to the education sector of at least 15 to 20% of national expenditure by 2030.
Chakwera made the pledge at the UN Transforming Education Summit, which was hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the UN Headquarters in New York, United States.
The education summit was one of the engagements organised by the UN Secretary General ahead of the 77th United Nations General Assembly's official opening on September 20, 2022.
"My government affirms its support for the new Global Compact on Education Financing," President Chakwera said as he laid out thematic action tracks as commitments within the overarching cost Blended Education Strategy for Transformation.
"This includes increasing tax-to-GDP ratio by 5 percentage points to 21.4 per cent through progressive tax reforms by 2030 and to sustain allocation of at least 15 to 20 per cent of national expenditure, and at least 4 to 6 per cent of GDP, for domestic financing of education."
Malawi, according to Chakwera, reconfigured the school calendar to allow students to catch up on days missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, introduced remedial lessons, and increased back-to-school campaigns for school dropouts.
“We are also set to establish a national ‘Education Radio’ station, as well as a digitalized secondary school curriculum for increased access to education, and now many of our higher education institutions are developing their online education capabilities,” he said.
Chakwera urged developed countries to implement the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which calls for properly designed digital education platforms to revolutionise education and expand opportunities.