Ministry of Education has unveiled plans to establish a Teachers’ Council to ensure professionalism in the teaching profession.
Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said this in an interview after meeting education authorities in Mzuzu recently.
She said the council will ensure that the teaching profession remains respected and everybody adheres to the rules.
Said NyaLonje: “The council shall ensure that the teaching profession is respected. We don’t want any unruly behaviour in the profession.”
She said the ministry is aware that there are many teachers, but there are also few bad apples giving the profession a bad name.
The council falls under Sections 57 to 73 of the Education Act (No. 21 of 2013) which provides for establishment of the Teachers’ Council.
According to the law, the council shall be the sole registering authority of all persons required to be registered or licensed as teachers.
While welcoming the decision, the Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) and Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) have cautioned government on the composition of the council. They warned that politicisation of the grouping will not help matters.
In an interview yesterday, TUM president Willie Malimba said: “The ministry told us about the Teachers’ Council. If the purpose of the council is to look at the welfare of teachers, then we don’t have problems because it means TUM and the council will almost be doing the same things. We will work hand in hand.
“However, if the council will be set up to oppress teachers, if they decide to politicise it, then we will have problems. I can assure you that we will be at loggerheads.”
On his part, Csec executive director Benedicto Kondowe said the creation of the council will help to professionalise teaching as it will have the power to offer licences and de-register errant teachers.
He said: “That will help instil discipline within the teaching profession. Basically we are saying the council will be a regulator.
“TUM is a voluntary association, it’s not a regulator. This means that those who are not registered or licensed as teachers, will not be expected to teach in both private and public schools.”
Under Section 62, the Education Act provides that the council shall establish and maintain a register of teachers and a roll of licensed teachers and take part in all matters affecting the education and training of teachers.
The Act further says the council shall also be responsible for promoting professional and ethical standards in the teaching profession and communicate to the minister any information acquired by the council relating to matters of education in general and teacher education in particular.
Section 63 reads in part: “For the better performance of its functions, the council shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, have power-(a) to remove from or restore to the register any name which has been recommended as such by the Government Teaching Service Commission or any employer.
“(c) to consider any matter affecting the teaching profession and make representations thereon to the minister or take such action in connection therewith as the council may consider necessary.”
The council, according to the Act, shall consist of, among others, three persons having relevant knowledge, skill and experience in matters of education, in particular teacher training and two representatives from religious umbrella bodies on matters of education.
Representation shall include a representative of private schools, TUM, a Dean of a Faculty of Education of a university, ex-officio members from Malawi National Examinations Board and a representative of the caucus of local government authorities.