Primary school teachers with degree and diploma qualifications, who feel duped by the government for not promoting them as teacher trainers and secondary school teachers, on Thursday petitioned Parliamentarians to urgently intervene in their plight.
Their query came through twin petitions over their frustrations at being stuck as primary school teachers for many years despite successfully completing their degree and diploma programmes at Chancellor College in Zomba and at Domasi College of Education in Zomba respectively.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Dowa Ngala Elias Chakwera (Malawi Congress Party–MCP), read one of the petitions, while the other one was read by MP for Salima North West Jessie Kabwila (MCP).
The teachers expressed their disappointment that the government had not recognised their degree and diploma qualifications which necessitate them to no longer teach at primary schools but to be promoted and reposted as teachers either at teacher training colleges or secondary schools.
The petitioners said over the years, they have requested many stakeholders, including the Teachers’ Union of Malawi, to reason with the government on fully utilising and motivating them towards boosting education.
“From the time we graduated, we tried all means to push the government to consider us. But our efforts have proved futile. We also used TUM to engage the government on our behalf but the government decided to give a deaf ear to our cause.
“Having been left with no other option, we thought of your office as our last hope,” the petition said in part,
In brief discussions, before the matter was referred the the Parliamentary Committee on Education, MPs noted with regret that the issue date to as far back as 2013, with the government arguing that it cannot effect the promotions because there are no vacancies in the teacher training colleges and secondary schools.
The MPs regretted the irony whereby many graduate teachers are unemployed, and are leading miserable lives, at a time when the nation needs their services in schools.
In an interview, Chakwera, who is chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, said his committee will soon summon officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to explain why the long-standing issue has not been resolved yet.
He said given the country’s high pupil-teacher ratios –including that of about one teacher to 78 pupils in primary schools—the government should latch onto the opportunity of utilising the trained teachers.
“Just what is their problem, we wonder? If the ministry needs more resources, why does it not say so? I think, at this mid-term review of the budget, this is the time to convince us to lobby for more funds in order to make the ministry tick properly,” Chakwera stated.