Richard Milosi Katungwe and Chiphaliwali Milezhi might not be unique in their situations but at least for now, they have told their predicament. The two are lone teachers at their respective schools.
Katungwe, a Junior Certificate holder, is a volunteer teacher at Kulima Primary School which has classes up to Standard Six with an enrolment of 365 pupils. Milezhi teaches at Gugu Primary School which has five classes and 401 pupils.
While Minister of Transport and Public Works, who is also MP in Chikhwawa Nkombezi Constituency, Sidik Mia, built 16 blocks at various schools including the two government, has not reciprocated by sending teachers.
Katungwe said the K600 ($2) monthly payment he receives from members of the community was merely a token of appreciation for helping the children.
“I have never had any formal teacher’s training as is normally the case. I wish government would consider me,” he said.
He said he combines classes such that standards one and two learn together; so does standards three and four as well as five and six.
Milezhi said his career which spans from 1984 has faced a lot of challenges since he started teaching at Gugu. He said last year he only received two teachers under the Open Distance Learning (ODL) programme but they only stayed for a term.
Centre for Children’s Affairs Malawi executive director Moses Devlin Busher expressed shock at the situation saying if the Ministry of Education does not intervene, these pupils will face a difficult future.
Busher, who also chairs Chikhwawa District Education Network, said there is urgent need to increase the number of teachers in the district apart from developing incentives to promote education.
“How can we talk about achieving quality education in Malawi yet one teacher is serving 6 classes? It’s very bad that we are pushing a lot of teachers in urban and semi urban areas,” he said.
Ministry of Education spokesperson, Lindiwe Chide, said their office in Chikhwawa managed to locate the school and established that it was started by communities.
She said the communities were given the procedures to follow in registering the school with the district office but that they never responded despite being sent reminders to that effect.
“So we are not very sure how they want to run the school, whether public or private. However, we will continue to monitor and advise them,” said Chide.