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Government to promote 14,000 teachers

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Peter Kanjere:

Some 14,000 teachers out of the total 80,000 in the country will, in arguably an unprecedented move, be promoted this year, Education, Science and Technology Ministry Principal Secretary, Justin Saidi, confirmed Monday.

The promotions will cost billions of kwacha but Saidi, amid questions on the timing, insisted that the move is meant to improve education standards.

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Saidi said the promotion of the teachers for public primary, secondary schools and training colleges has nothing to do with the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Teachers play a role in elections either as polling centre clerks or centre supervisors.

“We budgeted for the promotions. We have started the process involving primary and secondary school teachers and those from teachers’ training colleges. We promote teachers based on vacancies. We should be promoting them annually because, for some time, some have been on the same grade for a long time.

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“This process started long time back and the promotions take place when one has worked for four years. It has nothing to do with elections. If we want to promote education in the country, we cannot ignore teachers,” he said.

Last year, the government also promoted some teachers but Saidi admitted that a few teachers were promoted.

Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) General Secretary, Charles Kumchenga, Monday said they have been pushing for the promotions and that they wanted them effected from October 1 2018.

“It is our wish that each and every teacher should be promoted because the Teachers Service Commission says that, after four years, one is eligible to undergo interviews for promotion. We had a meeting with the PS [Saidi] today [Monday] and they have assured us that they are finalising files for 921 secondary school teachers. We have submitted details of schools from each and every district,” he said.

Kumchenga said they were not concerned with the timing of the promotions.

“It might be possible that they might respond to our request based on the season [campaign period] but we only look at the teachers’ promotions. This has not started this year,” he said.

Last year, the government recruited 10,000 primary school teachers and 1,200 for secondary schools and some are still owed arrears, Kumchenga confirmed. Overall, the government owes teachers K1 billion.

On Saturday, Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera, addressing a rally in his Lilongwe North West Constituency, cautioned teachers and all civil servants against being swayed by incentives, saying they were part of Democratic Progressive Party campaign ahead of the elections.

“Now, they want to treat teachers well but they have abused them. They want to treat our service people right but they have abused them. They have not done 75 percent of what they promised and now they want to please people. They have three months [to go] and we are not giving them another chance,” Chakwera told the political rally.

Education expert, Benedicto Kondowe of Civil Society Education Coalition, Monday welcomed the promotion of the teachers but called for consistency on the same.

“This is what Tum and its allies have been pushing for, considering that they have been inconsistent on issues of recruitment. Our view is that if implemented, it will contribute to teachers’ motivation. Education standards have gone down because the teaching force is frustrated,” Kondowe said.

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