By Jameson Chauluka
The Education Sector Performance Report (ESPR) for 2021 has revealed a skills gap among some of the teachers that are working in public and private schools in the country.
ESPR indicates, among other things, that up to 19 percent of all secondary school teachers have Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) certificates as the highest qualification.
“Such teachers are grossly under-qualified and should not be allowed to teach in secondary schools. No matter how hard-working and committed the unqualified teachers may be, their knowledge of the subject matter, competence and skills in teaching remains unpredictable and mostly skewed towards being negative. It should also be pointed that, with regards to specialisation, there are generally fewer science teachers in schools,” the report reads.
The report shows that the student qualified-teacher ratio has, in recent years, been oscillating at between 36.0 and 44.3 for public schools and 37.6 and 62.0 for private schools.
Meanwhile, Civil Society Education Coalition Chairperson is unfortunate that most of the affected schools are based in rural areas.
Benedicto Kondowe has said it is unfortunate that most of the affected schools are based in rural areas.
He said it did not make sense that this was happening at a time the country had myriad qualified teachers that were not employed.
“The government has been saying that it is planning to recruit over 2,000 teachers. You see, these teachers have been waiting to be employed for a long time and, yet, they are needed, especially in rural areas where the majority of Malawians are,” he said.
Kondowe said an individual with an MSCE certificate as the highest qualification could not thoroughly prepare a candidate for national examinations.
Another quality education activist Steve Sharra said under-qualified teachers were a big contributor to poor results in the country’s community day secondary schools.
He cited recent MSCE examinations results in rural areas.
“Even with JCE [Junior Certificate of Education] examinations whose results have just been released, most of the students who have failed are from these community day secondary schools.
“It is important that we expand our universities so that we train as many graduate teachers as possible. We must also make sure that we allocate enough money to the education sector so that it can employ teachers,” he said.
Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala, while acknowledging the extent of the problem, said the government was taking steps to address them.
Chimala said the government was, among other things, employing over 2,000 teachers on top of the 1,500 others who are employed on an auxiliary basis.
“The problem of shortage of qualified teachers has been there for years but what is encouraging is that we are taking decisive steps to address it. There has never been a time when the government employed more than 2,000 secondary school teachers at once. We are doing that. Together with 1,500 teachers employed on auxiliary basis, we are sure the problem will be addressed,” he said.