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Atem bans external director

Association of Teaching of English in Malawi (Atem) has banned one of the external directors Ignatious Kaphinde and other Dzuwa Arts members for a year following queries that one of the schools raised.

Atem received queries from three schools that took part in the Central West Education Division contest which was held at Likuni Boys Secondary School in Lilongwe on February 1 2020.

During the contest, Likuni Boys as the host came first with Chipasula and Mlodza coming second and third, respectively. The three top schools made it to the regional finals.

However, Darlo Girls, which came fourth, Chipasula which was second and Dedza queried the results saying there were a lot of irregularities including use of external directors by some schools and credibility of the judges.

In a letter dated February 8 2020, Atem has said it made its verdict after scrutinising the issues raised and has seen them banning Kaphinde and other Dzuwa Arts members for being involved in a Mlodza Secondary School production contrary to Atem’s rules that external directors should not be involved.

Atem says Kaphinde and other Dzuwa Arts members should not appear at any venue Atem was conducting its festivals for a year and that once found, proper procedures will be taken.

“For external director’s acts of playing any active roles none other than just being part of the audience is a misconduct and Atem does not encourage such tendencies,” the letter reads signed by Atem National Executive Committee (Nec).

The executive has also warned Mlodza Secondary School for using an external director and has deducted four points for sound and costume.

The deduction of four points from Mlodza has seen them tying on points with Darlo.

Atem has since declared that Mlodza and Darlo have made it to the regional final and this has also seen a school from Central East Education Division – Chayamba making it to the regional final.

“Instead of having the regional final on February 15 2020, the executive advises the concerned divisions that the festival will take place on February 22 2020. Each participating school will be required to make a payment of K20,000 as participation fee,” the letter reads.

Atem has also advised the schools to lead their schools to the festivals and not let external directors do their duties.

“The external directors have taken Atem forum as a battle field by politicising Atem of which at the end Atem seems to move away from its objectives, mission and vision. Atem is an association that belongs to the teachers of English in Malawi,” Atem Interim President Dave Mpaso said.

He said Atem was an association delegated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to facilitate the teaching of English in secondary schools through different ways and that one of them was drama.

There was also an issue which Chipasula Secondary School raised alleging that Likuni Boys staged a play which they once performed before.

Atem, in its verdict, indicated that it has not yet developed rules on how to handle such situations although it threw out Chipasula’s query with Likuni claiming it was their play and that they first staged it in 1990.

The association, however, said in a situation where schools act originally same plays, Atem will penalise the schools and boot them out of the competition.

Atem has been out of the limelight for close to two years and has returned this year starting off with divisional finals in all the three regions.

Kaphinde while accepting the ruling, indicated that he did not go there to assist Mlodza School in the whole production but rather help them in sound effects having hired equipment from him.

“Again I feel having no external directors will kill the competition. Teachers may only work on language but the acting part needs professional artists. Most schools actually hired external directors,” Kaphinde said.

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