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ColumnsHitting The Nail

Hitting the nail: ‘Bomb’ Ministry of Education

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I certainly do not want the teachers to go on strike next week because I know the full brunt of such an action will not be borne by President Peter Mutharika and his ministers but children of the poor people.

Unlike during the single party rule, children of most politicians do not go to government schools today because no parent would want his or her child to learn under a tree. This contrasts what used to happen during the single party rule when children of ministers were learning with the rest. Perhaps this is the reason there were standards then.

Today the rich man’s children or politician’s kids go to expensive private schools both locally and abroad. Perhaps this is why they do not care and the Ministry of Education is today the bastion of incompetence among all ministries. It is the only ministry that persistently pays its employees late. It is the only ministry which can squander tax payers’ money to train teachers for two years and then wait another two years before deploying them, hopelessly arguing that the fact it trained them does not make it automatic it must employ them. This is warped thinking.

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It is the only ministry that transfers its personnel in teachers and then does not give transport to take them to their work station. It is the only institution that can promote its personnel but take ages to effect changes in their remuneration and then pathetically argue that due to pressure it is getting, it may rescind the promotions. It is the only institution that has the guts of allowing children of poor people to learn under trees and yet claim that it had excess money amounting to K500 million during the mid-term budget review.

To cut a long story short, this is a ministry that embodies incompetence of the highest proportions and teachers’ action to threaten to strike looks like a child’s play which has been long overdue. The teachers have been treated as second class citizens not by anybody else but their own ministry.

The ministers, their principal secretaries, down to all officials have, while perching in their air-conditioned offices at Capital Hill, treated teachers as pieces of garbage who can be tossed around without any qualms.

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Otherwise how do you explain the fact that it is only teachers that are bearing the full brunt of any maladministration in government? It is only the teachers whose promotion is difficult to effect. It is only teachers whose salaries always delay and yes, it is only teachers whose employment takes ages to effect even after government has blown billions of tax payers’ money training them.

They should believe nothing of what the President and his officials are saying that they will solve their problems because the truth of the matter is none of their grievances will be solved as there is nobody in DPP government or any government that gave a hoot about their plight.

There is one course of action that can alleviate the long suffering of teachers to bring dignity befitting this noble profession and it is to ‘bomb’ the Ministry of Education and start all over again.

If there is a ministry that needs instant reforms in their strictest sense of the word, then it is education.

The reforms should centre on the teacher and not the fat cats at Capital Hill. They should include dividing it into pieces for better delivery of its mandate that includes taking care of a teacher who is in the classroom.

Until this happens teachers will always complain and they will threaten to strike even when national examinations are around the corner but nothing will happen to them.

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