Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Freedom at its best!

It would have been unheard of in the past.
Primary school learners were then expected to be disciplined; to obey every word from a teacher.
As university students demonstrated, learners just watched--as if they were eagles perched in trees.
But things changed during former president Joyce Banda's regime. When teachers took industrial action, learners in Blantyre took to the streets.
They did not only storm onto the streets; they sang!
What we're the songs? Ng'ombe yaikazi sikoka ngolo (a female cow cannot pull a cart)!
Well, nobody knows who taught the learners, aged between 6 and 13 years that song.
But everyone knows they were referring to Joyce Banda rule, in the context of gender. They were implying that a woman cannot lead a nation. Such prejudiced thinking!
Today, pupils from Chilinde, Area 23 marched. Why? They are angry because they are not learning.
Why? Teachers are on a sit-in.
Why? They want salary increments.
Why? The government has been playing a fast one.
The Teachers Union of Malawi held meetings with government representatives several times this year. But the outcome was not even less satisfactory. It was outright unsatisfactory.
The Ministry of Education is, at best, myopic in its handling of serious issues.
Teachers are simply taken for granted.
Just imagine, the Ministry of Education promoted primary school teachers on March 14, 2012.
The promotions, replete with improved working conditions, would be effected immediately.
Up to now, the teachers are still receiving salaries they were getting in 2012, if we exclude the peanut increments they have been getting since then.
Some of the primary school teachers are in Zomba Rural, some are in Blantyre, some are in Chitipa. In short, they are scattered throughout the country.
I asked Ministry of Education spokesperson, Manfred Ndovi, the other day,and his response was: "Some of the teachers have not met the conditions they were supposed to meet".
Okay. But what for those who fulfilled the conditions?
Are teachers children of one biological mother and father to receive to be subjected to one-wrong-fits-all action?
Somehow, somewhere, we do things wrongly.
I will not be surprised to hear primary school learners sing one day: A male ox cannot pull a big cart!

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