13 November 2016 Last updated at: 9:02 AM
Learners stranded: no teachers in rural schools
As the country’s education sector continues to sail through tough times, this publication has discovered that about 10 primary schools in the northern region are running without qualified teachers.
This is coming at a time the Malawi government is failing to deploy qualified teachers it already trained in various teacher training colleges across the country.
A spot check our team conducted in Mzimba and Nkhatabay established that in some primary schools, classes were suspended long time ago owing to absence of teachers.
Primary schools like Chithowi, Kang’oma, Mazamba and Chitheka in Nkhatabay are running without qulified teachers.
In Mzimba, primary schools like Kamalibwe, Chivwi, and Luviro are equally depending on volunteer teachers, most of them unqualified.
“We just help our children ourselves, otherwise, government is yet to send us teachers here. We have tried to reason with education authorities on the issue but to no avail,” said Davis Zgambo, one of the volunteers at Kamalibwe primary school.
Some of the schools depend on student teachers who are posted in such schools for their practicals. But when the student teachers are done, they leave learners hopeless.
The experience according to Thembozawo Chirwa, who has been assisted by volunteer teachers all her primary school, is a setback to academic success.
“We are often sent back home, especially this time when our teachers are busy cultivating their fields. As someone who is preparing to sit for national primary school exams, I’m worried about my academic performance,” she said.
Most other scholars in various rural schools shared the same sentiments. On the other hand, our team further established that the teacher deficit in such schools has fuelled high drop out rates in rural areas.
One of the traditional leaders in the district, Inkosi Kampingo Sibande of Mzimba expressed dismay at the status quo.
“This is leading to early pregnancies and drug abuse among our children here because in absence of teachers, they have nothing to do at school than smoking and drinking alongside other immoral activities,” he said.
District education managers in the two districts said they are aware of the problems but referred our team to the ministry of education.
In an interview, minister of education, Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano conceded that government has delayed in deploying teachers in rural schools.
“Therefore, we would like to assure you that we are sourcing funds which will enable us to deploy these teachers and train more others. We don’t want to employ them and later fail to meet their welfare that’s why we are trying to work things out, before hiring them,” he said.
Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe described the current state of affairs as distressing.
He said it is unfortunate that government and other stakeholders don’t care about people living in rural areas in as far as education is concerned.
“Something has to be done, if we are serious about the future of our country. Children in rural areas deserve a better future as well,” he said.
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