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Recruitment moratorium irks teachers

Teachers in the country have described as “complete nonsense” government’s decision to suspend the recruitment of teachers graduating from various teacher training colleges in the country, threatening to take unspecified action if government does not abide by its pledge to recruit the trainee-teachers by April next year.

“To be honest, this is sheer nonsense,” said Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) Secretary General, Denis Kalekeni. “The fact is that there is an acute shortage of teachers in our primary and secondary schools and it is this situation that prompted government to train teachers.”

Kalekeni said it did not make sense to say the government was not ready to employ the teachers after investing so much to train the teachers.

“The whole thing is laughable and all we can say as teachers is that we are waiting for the April deadline and if the teachers are not employed we will take appropriate action,” he said.

He said teacher’s morale both in the field and in teacher training colleges has gone down despite Ministry of Education’s pledge that government would employ a few teachers by, at least, April next year due to limited finances.

Meanwhile, the development has led to despair among graduating student-teachers from Development Aid from People to People (Dapp) Amalika Teacher Training College in Thyolo.

One of the graduating student teachers, Dick Kapata, said on Friday that his cohort, which enrolled in 2013, is the second to be affected by government’s decision. He said his cohort, which is the sixth, as well as the fifth cohort, remains unemployed, a development that has led to reduced zeal.

“It is painful to be trained for a job that you cannot do considering that government is not offering us any employment. Even private schools are not forthcoming to use us as we wait for full employment. Let government rethink its decision,” said Kapata.

Dorothy Tcherani, another graduating student-teacher at the college, deplored the situation, observing that the teaching profession is becoming less interesting among people in the country considering the challenges teachers are facing.

“We have been trained but the thing is, government cannot employ us. This is really disheartening considering the resources that have been invested in us. To say the truth, the profession is becoming less interesting,” she said

Principal of the College, Charlotte Danckert, admitted that the development has forced the institution to cut down on its intake as government has not been honouring the agreement between the two parties.

“We have an agreement with government that it should be contributing finances to the operation of the college but that has not been the case. That means that we had to cut down on the teams [college intake],” she said on the sidelines of the graduation ceremony on Friday.

Ministry of Education’s Schools Inspector Christopher Ziwa who was guest of honour at the event could not say when the ministry will resume employment but when he opened Chiradzulu Teacher Training College, Minister of Education Emmanuel Fabiano conceded that the country can hardly improve its education sector if teachers are not properly trained.

“It is the desire of government to reduce the teacher – student ratio to at least 1 to 60 at least by 2017 and with the opening of TTCs we are sure that the number of qualified teachers will increase,” said Fabiano.

At the moment, the country’s teacher – student ration stands at 1 qualified teacher against 78 pupils.

Apart from student teachers graduating from various TTCs in the country, reports indicate that between 2011 and 2015, there are around 1,500 graduates from Chancellor College that have not been absorbed into the teaching profession.

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