Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) says it is disappointed that there is no provision for teachers’ recruitment in the 2020/21 National Budget.
TUM general secretary Charles Kumchenga in an interview on Sunday said the union asked government to consider recruiting Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) 13 and 14 and secondary teachers, arguing that the splitting of classes into smaller clusters due to Covid-19 will pile pressure on teachers.
He said the union will engage the Ministry of Education for clarification.
Said Kumchenga: “As you are aware, with Covid-19, government advised us to split classes which have more learners so as to observe social distancing. This will lead to an increase in the workload of teachers; hence, our request to recruit additional teachers.”
During the budget presentation on Friday, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu said government has allocated K384.5 billion to the Ministry of Education, representing 21.6 percent of the K2.2 trillion budget.
He said the Education Ministry allocation, the largest share in the 2020/21 Budget, will cater for teachers wages and salaries, operations for primary and secondary schools, development projects and all education subvented organisations such as public universities.
Unlike in education sector, the K204.7 billion allocation for the Ministry of Health clearly indicates that, K8 billion is for recruitment of health workers.
According to Kumchenga, there are currently about 10 000 primary school teachers and about 2 000 secondary school teachers who completed their training but remain unemployed.
But in a written response, Ministry of Education Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa said the ministry proposed the recruitment of 10 800 teachers in the 2020/21 Budget.
She said the ministry is ready to meet TUM and any other stakeholders on pertinent issues affecting the education sector in the country.
Said Mussa: “The ministry proposed to recruit 9 500 primary school teachers that was factored in the Local Government budget and will also recruit 1 300 secondary school teachers. As you are aware, all this is subject to final approval of the Budget by the National Assembly.”
Meanwhile, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe has echoed TUM’s concerns, saying the recruitment of teachers is important in the face of Covid-19.
He said: “Currently, the few teachers that we have are overwhelmed, especially when it comes to splitting the numbers [of learners] into smaller groups.
“It is unfortunate that the budget doesn’t speak to a clear vision for the education sector, especially when you consider that in the same Sona [State of the Nation Address], government indicated that it will continue training more teachers.”
On her part, Parliamentary Committee on Education vice-chairperson Jacqueline Chikuta said it is not practical that the budget has not clearly mentioned the recruitment of teachers, considering the threat of Covid-19 as schools re-open.
She said on Monday, the committee met with Ministry of Education and Treasury officials separately to discuss the exclusion of teachers recruitment in the budget, among other things.
Following the decentralisation policy, teachers are paid through their respective district councils.
According to Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho, government has in the budget allocated K2.9 billion for development and K637 million for Other Recurrent Transactions (ORT).
She said the ORT would also cater for teachers salaries.
However, draft estimates of expenditure on recurrent and capital budget in the Budget Document number 4 is silent on whether the Ministry of Local Government will recruit teachers in 2020/21 fiscal year. The ministry has been allocated about K65.2 billion.