Ministry of Education has said the country needs to recruit at least 20 000 teachers annually to meet current demands and improve the quality of education.
The ministry’s director of Teacher Education Department, Zizwa Msukuma said this yesterday during commemoration of this year’s World Teachers Day in Mzuzu.
He said Malawi 2063 can only be achieved if government trains and deploys adequate teachers in all schools.
He said: “Malawi has a deficit of 65 000 teachers and requires at least 20 000 teachers to be deployed in all schools annually.
“Currently, Malawi is at an average teacher-pupil ratio of 1:75. But this is against the required 1:60 and 1:40 for primary and secondary schools, respectively.”
Msukuma said teachers play a pivotal role in developing the nation and thus, a need to recognise them for their hard work.
The event presided over by Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima, attracted primary, secondary, teachers training college and special needs school teachers from all 34 educational districts.
Speaking during a press briefing ahead of the commemorations on Tuesday, the minister acknowledged that the education sector faces several challenges such as high teacher-pupil ratio, lack of resources and poor infrastructure that affect the performance of teachers.
But she said government was implementing different projects with its partners like construction of additional classroom blocks under the Malawi Education Reform Programme (Merp), construction of teacher’s houses, laboratories and introduction of allowances for teacher’s in remote areas to improve their welfare.
Said Wirima: “We are working toward a long-term solution. For example, we have the Merp project to ensure that by the end of 2024 there are 10 000 classrooms at primary level across the country.
“Under the same project, we have introduced an allowance for teachers in remote areas who usually have more challenges as compared to urban teachers. We have also introduced degrees and diplomas for teachers to upgrade, and the government is also constructing teachers’ houses to improve the welfare of teachers.”
On his part, Secondary School Teachers Union president Pilirani Kapolo said the country needs to work on rectifying problems that teachers are facing.
“Much as we are celebrating the precious work of all the teachers today, we should not forget the challenges that teachers are facing, for instance, the stagnation at the same grade for some for many years, housing problems and long distances they have to walk for those teaching in rural areas.”
In an interview yesterday, education expert Benedicto Kondowe agreed that teachers experience many challenges.
He said: “There is need for government to reduce congestion by reducing the classroom infrastructure so that it incorporates few required learners.
“This will increase the teacher-learner contact time since there will be few learners per classroom.”
On the issue of providing allowances to teachers, Kondowe said the government system is too slow to trace teachers that deserve these allowances.
“Once such a teacher has been transferred from an urban to a rural area, it takes time for government to identify and start disbursing these allowances to them. Those who move from rural areas also continue receiving such allowances for a longer time,” he said.
The event was also coloured by presentation of cash prizes and certificates of recognition to outstanding teachers.
World Teachers Day falls on October 5 but Malawi observed the day yesterday.