Teachers’ troubles continue as Malawi Examinations Board (Maneb) has told them that they will invigilate Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations without receiving their allowances in advance.
According to a letter from Maneb Acting executive director Jack Chalimba addressed to District Education Managers across the country, teachers will get their allowances when the funds are available.
“We have no funds now to enable us pay allowances. We expect that administrators of the 2017 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations will continue to carry out their tasks.
“Please inform officers that payments will be done as soon as funds become available. Please plead with the concerned officers,” reads the letter from Chalimba.
However, an angry teacher from Blantyre has lambasted Maneb for treating the invigilators as slaves saying invigilating examinations is tough work and it is made harder when the teachers have not received their money in advance.
“I think this is not constitutional. I have done this before, ntchito imakhalako (the work is tough) and worse still without money. These guys amatiwonerera aphunzitsife or ifeyo aphunzitsi tinapangisa Maneb and its government kuti azitiwonelera (Maneb exploits us or maybe it’s we the teachers who allowed Maneb and government to be abusing us). I am very sick of this slavery habit,” said the teacher.
When asked if they budget for the teachers’ allowances at the start of each financial year, Maneb spokesperson Simeon Maganga said the funds they set aside in the budget are mere estimates and in many cases circumstances change which forces the board not to pay the teachers in good time.
“For instance, in 2015 we budgeted for allowances at flat rates K10,000 for residents and K6,000 for commuters regardless of grades. Unfortunately, a decision was made later in the year to pay exam administrators according to their entitlements i.e. graduates starting at K15,000 and above.
“This money wasn’t in the budget but they had to be paid. While healing from these wounds, another budget estimate was hit by increase in subsistence allowance i.e. from K15,000 to K20,000. This wasn’t again in the budget. Mind you, every Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA) has its ceiling within which to budget. So, any deficit in one fiscal year eats up funds meant for the incoming fiscal year hence having perennial problem,” said Maganga.
He however said in the 2017/18 financial year they will make sure that things normalise and teachers are paid in good time.
On why they do not use the examination fees they collect from candidates to pay the teachers, Maganga said exams in Malawi are heavily subsidised such that candidates pay only 20 percent of what it requires to manage the exams.
“Test item development, moderation, printing, delivery, invigilation, security, collection, marking, benchmarking, notification of results printing, certificate printing require more money than the K800 that a candidate pays as subject fee,” he said.
“The Kenya National Examinations Council charges at market value which is equivalent of over K15,000. And if we are to follow suit, a candidate could be paying as high as K120,000 to sit for MSCE exam. How many can manage that considering that some are even failing to pay K7,000 for school fees?”