University of Malawi (UNIMA) education expert Dr. Elizabeth Meke and her civil society counterpart, Benedicto Kondowe, have hailed the government’s decision to recruit auxiliary teachers to reduce the problem of high teacher-to-learner ratio in the country’s public schools.
The Ministry of Education, through the Malawi Education Reform Programme (MERP), announced on Monday this week that it will be engaging 4,125 auxiliary teachers drawn from the Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) Cohort 13 and part of the IPTE Cohort 14.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa disclosed that the recruited auxiliary teachers will be placed in various public primary schools across the 34 education districts in the country.
“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 Government to reduce the high teacher-to-learner ratios across the country,” said Mussa in a statement released on Monday.
Reacting to the development, Meke said this will help in reducing the ratio between teachers and learners in public schools in Malawi, especially in rural areas.
“This is very commendable because it is a step towards addressing some of the gaps in the education sector. The recruitment of the auxiliary teachers will also lead to improvement of the quality of service delivery in the education sector,” she said.
On his part, Kondowe said although this is a temporary measure, the recruited auxiliary teachers will play an essential role in improving the quality of education.
He appealed to the government to consider give the auxiliary teachers full-time employment as time goes, stressing that better teacher recruitment and deployment strategies can contribute directly to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all (UNESCO, 2016).
Said Kondowe: “SDG 4 acknowledges the importance of teacher recruitment through target 4.c, which seeks to ‘substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers’ by 2030 (United Nations, 2015: 22). Target 4.5 addresses equal access to education, which is a direct result of effective and equitable teacher deployment (United Nations, 2015).
“Some of the challenges in recruiting teachers include: knowing how many teachers you have; predicting and deploying the number of teachers needed; attract quality teaching candidates; and inconsistent recruitment policies lacking proper processes to calculate the required number of teachers or their specific qualifications. For the above reasons, government should foster coherent teacher recruitment policy and planning agenda.”
The recruitment of the auxiliary teachers comes barely few weeks after President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera expressed his government’s commitment to sustaining allocation to the education sector with at least 15 to 20 percent of national expenditure by 2030.
Chakwera made the commitment at the UN Transforming Education Summit organised by the UN Secretary General António Guterres at the UN Headquarters in New York, US.
The education summit was one of the engagements organized by the UN Secretary General ahead of the official opening of the 77th United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2022.
“My government affirms its support for the new Global Compact on Education Financing,” said President Chakwera when he outlined thematic action tracks as commitments within the overarching cost Blended Education Strategy for Transformation.
He said: “This includes increasing tax-to-GDP ratio by 5 percentage points to 21.4 percent through progressive tax reforms by 2030 and to sustain allocation of at least 15 to 20 percent of national expenditure, and at least 4 to 6 percent of GDP, for domestic financing of education.”
Chakwera told the summit that Malawi reconfigured the school calendar to enable learners to catch up on days lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, introduced remedial lessons and intensified 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 pleaded with developed nations to put into action the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) calling for properly designed digital education platforms that could revolutionize education and expand opportunities.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :