Saturday, August 10, 2013

Edu-caution: Ministry of Education and the 2013/14 teacher recruitment tragedy

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is one ministry in Malawi that rarely is on the media spotlight for good reasons. True to that, there seems to be developing, as of now, some news of great miscalculation of priorities in the ministry—the 2013/14 teacher recruitment process. 

In its Press Release in the local press in the month of February 2013, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) through Teaching Service Commission (TSC) informed all serving and non-serving diploma and degree holders with majors in either Languages or Sciences of the existence of vacancies in the ministry.

Qualifying job applicants applied, the shortlisting was done, and now the interviews have almost started. The content of press release has scared quiet many; some discussed the fate of humanities teachers at length, and still some warned that the 2013/14 teacher recruitment process is a ‘warning shot’ of the closure of teacher-manufacturing faculties in public and private colleges and universities as no market will be readily available to absorb them. 

As a matter of clarification, two issues are of special interest in the 2013/14 TSC teacher recruitment process, namely; the sidelining of humanities teachers and the missing of names of education degree holders in the shortlist.

This year, for the first time in the history of Malawi, teachers have been trained and cannot all be employed by their trainer. It has long been believed that the education profession is the easy road to employment; but that belief should change now and really now as there are now enough qualified teachers in public secondary schools in Malawi. If in doubt about this statement, ask TSC.

All teachers who majored in humanities have their services thrown to the dog as MoEST sees nothing worthwhile in them, if not for good at least in this 2013/14 year. Recognizing the waywardness in this thinking, MoEST through TSC is said to have shortlisted some of the humanities majors who still applied despite TSC’s uncalled for ‘ban’.

Whilst one can appreciate the logic in the TSC’s language-and-sciences-only press release as being motivated by the ministry’s sciences-dominated change of the secondary school curriculum, it makes little sense, if any at all, as to the fate of the humanities education students in public higher education institutions. This becomes much of a big problem given the historical fact that those that study education in government colleges and universities enjoy open entry into the education system as teachers.

While TSC’s ‘ban’ on humanities majors is regrettable, the missing of names of education degree holders in its shortlist of candidates is greatly deplorable. It is widely bemoaned among the applying candidates that certain names of people holding degrees in education majoring in languages and sciences have their names missing.

TSC says it shortlisted all languages and sciences applicants adding that those whose names are not on the list either did not apply or their application did not reach TSC. Fine and good. Though still, one wonders as to how it is the case that most of the names missing on the list are of holders of education degree in the languages and sciences TSC is looking for.

Those that have paid close attention to the list blame TSC for doing a bad job as they say that the list is full of non-education degree holders. Given, all degree holders are arguably the same in terms of understanding of secondary school curriculum content. However, delivery of content, especially as informed by methodology, education degree holders are way better than non-education degree holders. 

Is it not common sense that it is almost impossible, if not certainly so, for an educationist to outclass a lawyer in matters to do with law. Similarly, it is doubtful that a bachelor of science majoring in Mathematics or a bachelor of arts majoring in language can outperform a bachelor of education science or a bachelor of education language respectively. They both may know the content, but delivering the content demands more than just a degree.

TSC may have had good reasons, but if it is true that indeed TSC has shortlisted non-education degree holders to the exclusion of applying education holders, then one the Malawi nation has all the right reasons to believe that the 2013/14 teacher recruitment process is a serious edu-caution. And should TSC proceed as above, there will be no doubt that MoEST’s 2013/14 teacher recruitment process is a tragedy.

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