The government has extended contracts for 3,270 auxiliary teachers for an unspecified period.
The development comes at a time the country is far from achieving the recommended 1:60 teacher-learner ratio.
However, the auxiliary teachers and Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) have questioned the Ministry of Education for not coming out clear on the duration of the extended contracts and the amount of money the teachers would be carting home.
Additionally, Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) has said it is not happy with the government’s decision, bearing in mind that there are over 8,000 qualified teachers the government is failing to employ.
The teachers get a monthly pay of K80,000 while others get not less than K138,000 per month. In this case, the government would need at least K451 million every month and K5.4 billion yearly if it were to permanently recruit the teachers.
In a statement, Secretary for Education Chikondano Mussa indicates that teachers recruited from the Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE 13) cohort should continue teaching as they have been doing since February 2021.
“All concerned head teachers, school committees and district education managers are advised to continue honouring all contractual obligations to the teachers,” the statement reads.
However, Tum President Willy Malimba said the logical thing to do was to employ the teachers.
“Those teachers are living a miserable life. Our request to the government is to recruit the teachers; not extend their contracts,” Malimba said.
Csec Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said the government’s ambiguity on duration of the extended contracts would leave the teachers less motivated than if they knew how long they would be in employment.
This, in our view, is quite unfortunate and does signal double standards on the part of the government because lack of clarity would provide space for teachers to speculate that the government is not eager to absorb them into the system,” Kondowe said.
Kondowe said Csec once engaged the ministry early this year to consider employing the teachers.
The auxiliary teachers’ deputy spokesperson Frackson Golowa said, much as they appreciated the government’s gesture to extend their contracts, they were still worried.
According to Tum, the country needs 83, 000 teachers to reach the recommended 1:40 teacher to learner ratio.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.