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UK tells government to include teachers in national budget

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As government is failing to employ 19, 000 teachers who already qualified for the job, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) has advised the government to include teachers in the national budget.

DfID has already pumped K1.3 billion (1.7 million Pounds) and another K4 billion (4.6 million Pounds) into the expansion of Mzimba Teachers Training College under Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) and the construction of Phalombe Teachers Training College which opened in May 2015, respectively.

The K5.3 billion for the two TTCs is part of the K31.5 billion (35.9 million Pounds) Keeping Girls In School Programme which aims at promoting equal numbers of boys and girls up to the first two years of secondary school.

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DfID Deputy Head of Office, Philip Smith, said this on Wednesday when he handed over Phase Two of the Mzimba TTC to DAPP.

Asked to comment on government’s failure to employ the already trained teachers and whether that was frustrating DfID’s multi billion Kwacha programme on education, Smith said: “Decisions about the deployment and effective management of teachers to improve learning outcomes are the responsibility of the Government of Malawi, to be taken within their budget.”

However, UK’s good gesture would be in vain if government continues abandoning trained teachers and fails to reduce the Pupil Qualified Teacher Ratios of average 75 to 1 and 100 to 1 in the lowest grades.

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“And if Malawi’s population growth remains constant, Malawi will need to triple the number of primary schools and teachers by 2040. In Malawi, 53 percent of the population is below 18 years of age. If Malawi is going to reap the demographic dividend of a youthful population it is vital that we invest in the provision of quality education to children and young people in order to equip them with the skills they need to enter the workforce and play a valuable role in shaping Malawi’s future.

“A well trained teacher is the single most important factor in influencing learning outcomes in the classroom. Supporting teacher education is a smart investment,” said Smith.

“All of DFID’s efforts in education, combined with our ongoing support to the Global Partnership in Education, assure the Malawian people of the UK’s ongoing commitment to support Malawi in providing quality education for all,” said Smith.

DAPP Country Director, Lisbeth Thomsen, admitted that it was frustrating to train teachers and fail to employ them but was quick to state that government would eventually employ DAPP’s 55 teachers who graduated and are jobless, as well as those who are also waiting to be recruited.

Thomsen advised teachers to seek jobs in private schools until government engages them so that they are able to fend for themselves.

Acting Director in the Department of Teacher Education Development, Mary Chirwa, was non committal when asked about the day the government would employ the trained teachers.

Chirwa said her department was responsible for training teachers and that employing them was a responsibility of another department.

Government is struggling to employ 19,000 teachers and 51 medical doctors and 330 nurses because of lack of funds.

In addition to Mzimba TTC, the programme is also providing 15,000 secondary school bursaries, supporting 100,000 girls with cash transfers and constructing 3,000 latrines in Community Day Secondary Schools.

Recently, DFID contributed s £4.6 million to the construction of Phalombe Teachers Training College, which opened in May this year.

And, in June 2015, DFID announced £11.6 million support to Early Grade Reading Improvement and Primary School Infrastructure. DFID will provide up to £7million to erect educational infrastructure at 48 sites.

DFID will also work closely with the Ministry of Education and the Education Infrastructure Management Unit (EIMU) to open up classroom space for over 30,000 pupils annually.

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