Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lack of jobs forcing Malawian graduates into teaching

They might have toiled to enrol in the country’s universities with the view of becoming what they dreamt of but most of them have found themselves becoming teachers mostly in secondary schools.

Such is the fate of many a graduate none more so than Tumbikani Msowoya who graduated from Mzuzu University (Mzuni) with a degree in Forestry studies. He is now teaching at Katoto secondary in Mzuzu.

Less than 10 of the 30 or so students in Tumbikani’s class have found the employment they were trained for. But they are not the only ones.

Gift Siyame is another. He graduated from the Malawi Polytechnic with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies but is now teaching at Chifunga Secondary school in Mwanza.

Gift said that of the about 40 students in his class, less than five are employed in the media or journalism-related fields.

This is but a tip of an iceberg. Thousands of graduates flood the ministry of education with applications to take up chalk even when they didn’t study how to teach. And this is bad.

Analysts, like Mzuzu University’s Marisen Mwale, say people who were not trained in education would fail to perform in secondary schools because they did not do basics of psychology, sociology and philosophy of education. They say these enable them to handle adolescents.

Gift and Tumbikani see no problems with teaching without formal training and argue that teaching is talent and anyone can do it.

“Look at university lecturers. Do they go to a teaching school? It’s the same with us. As long as you have a degree you can adapt to any job,” said Siyame.

The ministry of education has since re-introduced the University Certificate of Education (UCE) that non-education graduates take to get at par with their counterparts.

“That [UCE] equips them with methods of teaching, how to deliver, to monitor, and to evaluate; and issues of ethics, human rights, HIV and parent-teacher relations,” said an official deep in the education system.

Non-education graduates start on the same pay level (Grade I) with the education graduates but the ride into the future is not easy.

Tumbikani says that in the workplace, non-education graduates are underrated by their workmates. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that it is difficult for a non-education graduate to become a headmaster, for example.

A snap survey of some teachers showed quite some hostility towards these graduates that ‘jump professions.’

“They don’t know the subject matter with the required depth. Just imagine someone was trained in forestry teaching geography, ask him some questions and you will see that they are incompetent, it’s why they feel underrated,” said one teacher who pleaded for anonymity.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Lindiwe Chide, acknowledged that the employment of non-education graduates might be lowering education standards because they don’t have pedagogical know how.

If we are to go by Chide’s admission, why then does government employ people that may be lowering standards?

“The intake of Domasi, Mzuzu University, and University of Malawi does not meet the demand of teachers that is there,” Chide said.

There are currently about a thousand such teachers in our secondary schools and the ministry continues to receive more applications from stray graduates. Some people have proposed that all university students should learn how to teach and some say the number of other professions cut to expand education courses.

Only time will tell whether Tumbikani and Gift will ever live to be the people they saw themselves when they were in first year of college, but they are safe because at least they have a job. What about a James Phiri who is in first year now?

1 comment:

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