The government of Malawi through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is owing Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) 10 and Open Distance Learning (ODL) 5 graduates arrears amounting to MK440 million.
The arrears in question are for the last four months they were expected to receive during their teaching practices starting from April to July 2016.
About 5,500 teachers were trained through IPTE 10 and ODL 5 from September 2014 to July 2015.
They were deployed for teaching practices as per their training requirements from September 2015 to July 2016 where they were supposed to be receiving MK20, 000 as their monthly allowance for their upkeep.
However, during the last four months of their practicals, the teachers were not paid their monthly allowances resulting in each teacher being unsettled around MK80, 000.
“Our last four months of our teaching practices was like hell as we could sleep on an empty stomach such that sometimes the schools could give us Mary’s Meals porridge to survive,” Clement Mtumbuka who speaks on behalf of the group told Capital FM.
He added, “While all this was happening there was no any explanation from the Ministry as to why we were not been given our allowances.”
Mtumbuka said since 2016 to date they have been working tiresly to have their unpaid allowance given to them but all they have been given are empty assurances from the Ministry’s authorities.
“In early February this year we were assured that our allowances will be ready in two weeks’ time but to our surprise four weeks have now gone and there is none of us who has received the money,” Mtumbuka said.
“We therefore wish to ask the Ministry to explain why they keep on deceiving the poor desperate youths like us. We would like the Ministry to respond to our concern with keen interest or else we will hold vigils across the country in the DEMs offices if we are not given our money by the end of this month,” he said.
But when contacted on the issue, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Justin Saidi just told this reporter that he ought to find out about the issue before giving any response and promised to come back but he did not until the time of going to press.
Apart from the issue of unpaid allowances, the 2016 graduates also want the Capital Hill to deploy them to various schools after staying for about one year and eight months since they completed their studies.
This is however not the first time tjat the government has found itself in a state where it needs to pay back civil servants.
The Education Expertise Development Foundation has scaled up the active learning methodologies approach to secondary schools introducing the approach in 16 Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs) in four districts in Malawi.
Of the 16 CDSSs that have been targeted, six are in Mzimba, four in Lilongwe while Chikwawa and Mangochi have three each respectively.
Active learning methodologies are teaching strategies that include a wide range of activities that share the common element of involving students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing.
Since 2012, EEDF has been implementing a star school project targeting primary schools in the four districts where learners have been taught using the active learning methodologies.
Among others, the active learning methodologies have eased teaching and contributed to gradual increase in terms of the number of learners that are being selected to secondary schools.
However, some learners selected to secondary schools have found life difficult to adapt to the learning methodologies used which has led to poor performance.
To deal with this challenge, EEDF has secured funding amounting to US$1 million from the Master Card Foundation of Canada and Edukans of Netherlands to implement an identical project ‘Master Card Foundation CDSS funded project’ for three years with an aim of improving learning.
The targeted CDSSs are those that receive learners from the primary schools that are in the star school project.
“What compelled us to design this project is the fact that we are doing a similar project in primary schools where learners are taught using what we call active learning methodologies,” EEDF Programs Officer Moffat Njati said.
“So we want to ensure that after going through learning using active learning methodologies, learners who proceed to secondary schools should also be taught using similar methodologies because if they come across a different way of teaching in secondary schools obviously what will happen is that they will be caught off guard and it might take time for them to adjust to the new way of teaching,” he said.
Njati added, “So by bringing it to secondary schools we are ensuring that there is continuity and we believe students will continue enjoying learning and probably remain in school.”
Through the project EEDF will equip teachers with trainings to bridge the knowledge gap existing among teachers considering that many CDSSs are manned by teachers that are not qualified to teach secondary school content.
“We know that we still have unqualified teachers teaching in CDSSs. To deal with that the project is involving Domasi College of Education as a partner to train the teachers on how to use active learning methodologies,” Njati said.
“So the lecturers from Domasi together with secondary education method advisors will be trained and a team of 24 trainers will come down to the CDSSs to train the teachers so that they begin to teach using active learning methodologies.”
“By doing this we are going to kind of level the playing field that is by exposing the unqualified teachers and qualified secondary school teachers to the same training and methodologies which will help them teach at the same level and in that way we will have increased their competence and capacity to teach even though they are not qualified,” Njati said.
Apart from active learning methodologies, to completely improve learning, through the project EEDF will also help in improving the learning environment through provision of US$2000 per school under the domain of learning environment for renovation of classrooms, sanitation and water.
Apart from that it will also provide comprehensive sexuality education program to learners particularly girls in self-boarding facilities for them to withstand the pressures experience while in school.
Authorities in Ntcheu are expressing concern with the tendency of shunning adult literacy classes by most men in the district.
The concern was raised during the graduation of 211 adult literacy students from Traditional Authorities Mpando and Champiti respectively.
It has been done with support from Training Support for Partners TSP.
According to Capital FM’s Blessings Kang’ombe who attended the graduation ceremony out of the 211 grandaunts, only 19 of them were men.
The authorities attribute the shunning of adult literacy classes by men to shyness which they say is a setback to development.
According to TSP Projects Officer Charles Mankhokwe, such trainings go a long way in addressing gaps that exist when people are illiterate.
Ntcheu district Community Development Officer Beatrice Phiri stressed her office will increase raising awareness to woe more men to get enrolled in adult literacy classes.
And one of the learners, 40-year-old Geoffrey Nzililongwe from T/A Champiti hails the classes saying he is now able to read and write, which was a challenge to him in the past.
He urged fellow men to utilise such opportunities when they arise saying they are very helpful to both the community and the country especially in the aspect of socio-economic development.
Christmas has come early for pupils at St Pius Primary School in Blantyre following an over MK8 million donation of assorted items from a local company C & S Investments.
The donation includes maintenance of walk ways around the school campus, rehabilitation of classrooms, 100 plastic chairs, twenty footballs, Desks and swivel chairs for both the Headmistress and her deputy and 600 ball pens for the pupils.
C & S Investments is owned by seasoned Insurer Chris Kapanga and Chartered Accountant Symon Itaye and it is into the fuel and hospitality industry.
Among other business interests, the company runs the Zingwangwa filling station which is located at Kudya near St Pius Primary School where the donation was made.
Kapanga told Capital FM that the donation has been made as part of celebration as the company has clocked 10 years doing business in Malawi.
“We evaluated several alternatives we could have targeted for our social responsibility but we settled for St Pius for four reasons that Mrs Itaye and Mrs Kapanga who are the Directors of the company went through St Pius Girls and I myself went through St Pius Boys Primary.”
“The fourth reason is that St Pius is within the neighbourhood of Zingwangwa Filling Station,” said Kapanga.
He added that it was important for companies and individuals to help one another even at micro level before it comes to macro level.
Speaking after receiving the donation, the Headmistress of the school Norah Banda thanked C & S Investments for the donation describing it as timely.
“I think this donation will improve the education standards for the learners here as we will have quality education because the materials they have given us they are so good and important for the learners,” said Banda.
She further disclosed that as a school they are facing challenges of inadequate learning and teaching materials though she was quick to mention that with the support of the parents and the community, some of these challenges are being solved.
The Volunteers Service Overseas Organisation has donated exercise books and iPads to Ipyana full primary school in Karonga district.
This is in a quest to improve reading and writing skills among school going children.
Through the Unlocking Talent Project, the project seeks to enable youths in the country to learn mathematics, computing and English so that they are able to grasp Information Communication Technology (ICT) quickly thereby improving quality of education in the country.
According to Education Specialist for the VSO Tonas Kalumika said, “Pupils can adopt this system quickly because they are still young and that is why the organisation is targeting learners in standard one, two and three, so that when they get into standard 4 they are able to read and write through the use of modern technology.”
The specialist went on adding that they initiated the project to unlock the hidden talents among learners while on the other hand improving the quality of education.
He further told Capital FM that the project is also in support of the ministry of education in its national reading program as it also aims at achieving the same.
In his words, Karonga district education manager, Scorch Kondowe the support has come at a time when schools recently reopened and they were in need of support to procure teaching and learning materials.
“The project intends to support the beginners in schools particularly in standard 1 with skills where they can develop writing and reading skills at their own pace and what we have noticed is that in ten schools where this project is being implemented has generated an interest among learners to enroll into schools and gains among those that are participating in it,” said Kondowe.
The project is being supported by the VSO in partnership with One Billion London based charity organisation together with Malawi’s ministry of education science and technology.
With financial support from Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Scottish government, it is targeting ten public full primary schools across Karonga district.