Malawi government goes to sleep on private schools
The Ministry of Education is failing in its duties of monitoring standards conformance in private schools through its failure to conduct regular inspections.
The Daily Times has learnt that five years have elapsed without the ministry conducting school inspection exercises at various private secondary schools.
Independent Schools Association of Malawi (Isama) President, Joseph Patel admitted that private schools have run for five years now without being subjected to inspection exercises.
He said his body conducts its own assessment before registering a member which requires them to meet the minimum standards.
According to Patel, some private schools have been doing well in the national examinations with pass rates ranging from 70 to 85 percent, a proof that they are meeting the minimum standards.
But a visit to some private secondary schools showed that the lack of inspection has led to compromise of education.
A head teacher at Fulamingo private secondary school in Ndirande Jailos Chimwaza admitted that his institution has some under-qualified teachers.
He said most schools fail to hire qualified teachers as it is difficult to sustain paying them high salaries.
Education commentator Steve Sharra said the problem of poor standards is even prevalent in some government schools.
“Only half of the teachers in CDSSs are qualified. The numbers of graduate teachers from colleges and universities are not enough to meet the demand. In addition to having unqualified and under-qualified teachers, most schools lack laboratories and libraries.
“Where there are libraries they are not well stocked with books. We have students who spend four years in a secondary school without accessing good books,” he said.
Africa Network Campaign on Education for All regional coordinator Limbani Nsapato said while some private schools are doing well in national examinations, routine inspections are necessary to ensure adherence to all the necessary standards.
“Private schools need to meet minimum standards at all times to ensure value for money and that money spent through high fees does not go down the drain.
He said government needs to address the factors that push people to rush to private institutions such as poor infrastructure and lack of learning materials in public schools.
“This will ensure that the poor children who have no choice but learn in these public schools have equal access to quality learning,” he said.
Spokesperson for the ministry of Education, Manfred Ndovi said they are currently reviewing its inspection guidelines and that they will be ready before the start of the 2015/16 academic year in September.
He said government is in the process of rehabilitating 17 secondary schools among them Mzuzu Government, Mulanje and Nkhotakota.
“Not withstanding challenges in our own institutions. We have an obligation to ensure that private schools adhere to standards as they are in business,” he said
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