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Special needs teachers threaten industrial action

Chikondi Chimala

Special needs teachers in the country have threatened to withdraw their services from March 23 to force the government to promote them.

A letter to the Secretary for Education, through Teachers Union of Malawi, indicates that the teachers have been engaging the Ministry of Education on the matter, with no success.

The letter says, by not promoting them to Grade the government does not value the services they render to special needs learners.

“We regret to note that the meetings between us and education officials have not yielded anything. This makes us wonder as to why the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Education, funds, trains, qualifies, awards diplomas and posts specialist teachers yet they can’t honour their own paper.

“We feel that the ministry does not value special needs education hence no need to value delivery of such services at all levels of education such as primary, secondary and TTCs [teacher training colleges],” the letter reads.

The concerned teachers are the ones who graduated in 2016, 2017 and 2020.

The teachers say they have been engaging the Ministry of Education several times but they are told that there are no vacancies for such positions.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the ministry had received the letter and would respond accordingly.

Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi Executive Director Symon Munde said it was unfortunate that the situation was getting out of hand.

Munde asked the government to consider the demands of the teachers and come up with a compromise, saying special needs learners have already been disenfranchised by the recent school closure.

“We are proud of our special teachers, who are doing a good job, and we do not want special needs learners to suffer. Special needs learners do not need to have breaks weeks after schools were reopened. I should ask the teachers to consider other ways of forcing their demands. If you look at last year’s standard 8 results, you will see that special needs learners did poorly compared to their colleagues with no disabilities,” he said.

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