The Ministry of Education says it has sourced funds to recruit 3 270 auxiliary teachers to fill existing vacancies in various primary schools across the country’s 34 education districts.
In a statement issued yesterday, the ministry says the teachers will be recruited from the Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE 13) cohort and will be employed directly by school management committees from all schools that have vacancies.
Reads the statement in part: “This is an urgent recruitment process and all interested candidates must indicate their availability by 5th February 2021.
“Recruitment of these teachers is part of the efforts by the ministry to decongest classes in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. All IPTE 13 teachers who are interested to take up these posts, must report to the council offices of their choice.”
The teachers are expected to start working as soon as schools reopen in February this year on a five-month contract.
“However, subject to availability of funds, the contracts for this employment will be renewed,” reads the statement further, adding that interested candidates will be required to present authentic documents proving that they are qualified IPTE teachers.
Since there are limited vacancies in each council, no school will be allowed to take in teachers more than its allocation.
Last September, the Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) expressed disappointment that there was no provision for teachers’ recruitment in the 2020/21 National Budget.
TUM general secretary Charles Kumchenga at the time asked government to recruit IPTE 13 and 14 and secondary school teachers, arguing that the splitting of classes into smaller clusters due to Covid-19 will pile pressure on teachers.
This was after government had announced that schools would reopen that month after a five-month closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, schools are on a three-week break following President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive aimed at containing the further spread of the pandemic believed to be in its second wave.
The President also banned any public gatherings of more than 50 people. According to data from the Ministry of Education, the country’s pupil-teacher ratio is currently 69:1.
Kumchenga argued in September that the splitting of classes to enable physical distancing among pupils would increase teachers’ work load.
He said: “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; hence, our request to recruit additional teachers.”
Ministry of Education Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa told The Nation at the time that the ministry proposed the recruitment of 10 800 teachers in the 2020/21 Budget.
According to TUM, there are currently about 10 000 primary school teachers and about 2 000 secondary school teachers who completed training but are unemployed.
In the statement yesterday, the ministry also said it is working at easing teacher shortages in the secondary school sub-sector.
Government introduced the accelerated teacher training programmes–the IPTE-1+1 and the IPTE Open Distance Learning to train more teachers with the aim of reducing the teacher pupil ratio, but recruitment has been a challenge over the years due to inadequate resources.