The Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) yesterday welcomed the launch of a Misconduct and Disciplinary Procedures Handbook for the teaching profession in the country.
Csec executive director Benedicto Kondowe said in an interview the launch of the handbook is a step forward to shaping the teaching profession as it will help regulate teachers’ behaviour because of the sanctions attached to those showing bad conduct.
He said: “The launch of the book is a step forward in the context that it is providing clear guidelines when dealing with disciplinary issues against teachers.”
But while touting the development as a landmark in checking bad behaviour, especially abuse of the girl-child by male teachers, Kondowe urged Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) to put in place a Teachers’ Council as provided for in the amended Education Act of 2013.
Speaking during the launch of the handbook in Lilongwe yesterday, Minister for Education, Science and Technology Bright Msaka expressed worry that there are increased cases of misconduct in the education sector.
He said: “In the 2016/17 school calendar alone, the ministry registered over 2 500 disciplinary cases and the majority of these cases included immoral behaviour, sexual defilement, harassment, absenteeism, abscondment, drunkenness and many others. All these vices have a direct impact on the learner, the teacher and the ministry as a whole in terms of delivery of quality education”.
Msaka said most of the cases are perpetrated by male teachers who engage in sexual offences with students.
MoEST director of administration Herbert Kaludzu and Industrial Relations Court chairperson Chimwemwe Kamowa said MoEST has taken the right direction by coming up with clearly stated disciplinary procedures because they will help enhance fairness and consistency in the hearing process of cases.
Kamowa cited a case where a civil servant in MoEST was interdicted for six years without pay as one of the many inconsistencies the guide will eliminate.
The handbook describes misconduct as improper or unacceptable behaviour that does not conform to the prevailing standards of law, propriety or the terms and conditions of employment.