Beginning this year, student teachers in public teacher training colleges (TTCs) will be required to pay fees, The Nation has learnt.
Adverts for the July semester which have been flying in the media inform aspirants that they will be required to pay.
But secretary general of Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM), Denis Kalekeni, has condemned government and accused it of commercialising the noble profession.
He said: “This is unacceptable. We are talking about a noble profession aimed at imparting knowledge to the next generation, why should that come at a price? Are we really going to improve on the 1: 80 teacher-pupil ratio which is on the higher side?”
He said there should be other ways of sourcing funds than commercialising the profession.
Said Kalekeni: “Right now the colleges are free and the country is still struggling to attract an adequate number of teachers, what will happen when the few interested are required to pay?”
According to the performance contract between the President Peter Mutharika and Minister of Education, Science and Technology Emmanuel Fabiano signed on February 11 this year, the system needs 78 150 teachers to achieve its 1:60 qualified teacher to pupil ratio.
“Currently, there are 5 359 public primary schools enrolling a total of 4 688 992 pupils against 58 946 teachers. In order to achieve a 1:60 qualified teacher to pupil ratio, the system needs 78 150 teachers. This means the system is short of 19 204 teachers,” reads the statement.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Manfred Ndovi, confirmed the development but said government will subsidise the cost.
He said government currently spends not less that K500 000 (US$1 111) to train one teacher.
Said Ndovi: “The adverts are there indeed, but government is simply telling those interested to apply to be ready to pay, otherwise if the decision passes, the fee will be minimal and will not deter people from applying.”