Lilongwe, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) needs to scale up its efforts in addressing challenges affecting the education sector which UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa has said is rocked with unqualified teachers in the teaching service.
UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa Head of Education Division, Carolyne Medel-Anonvevo told journalists Monday in Lilongwe during a two-day regional workshop on Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of Teachers in SADC.
She said the region is being faced with common problems which hinders quality of education in most member countries.
Anonvevo observed that despite other challenges the education sector in the region is facing, the main and common challenge in the region is unqualified teachers which she said needs to be addressed with the urgency that it deserves.
As you increase access to primary and secondary teachers you also need to accelerate the training of teachers but we have a situation where we have increasing numbers of students who study to become teachers but at the same time in the system they are a lot of unqualified teachers, she said.
Anonvevo said teachers are central to quality education and as such governments should strive to improve quality education by addressing teacher challenges through prioritizing funds for skills development in order to address challenges the education sector is facing.
Despite this challenge, she said some countries are now trying to catch up by upgrading teachers who are already in the teaching service by offering them possibilities to upgrade.
You cannot have qualified teachers if government does not prioritise funds to train teachers whether it is pre-service or continuous professional development. Governments have to really make sure that teachers are at the core of national education policies, Anonvevo said.
She said that the SADC region is at different levels saying in some countries one could be a teacher just by having a certificate while in others one needs to have a University degree and as such the challenge, though common in the region, could be addressed differently.
Anonvevo bemoaned the high pupil teacher ratio which she said is high in most member countries with some having 120 students against one teacher which she described as not good.
She said it is for this reason that the member states have come together to share their experiences in terms of standards, teaching practices and continuous professional development so that through sharing of such experiences they could learn from one another.
Asked to say if UNESCO is satisfied with the quality of teachers trained in SADC member states institutions, Anonvevo could not come out clearly but said her organisation doesn’t impose its standards.
What we try to do is look at what countries are doing. At the moment, governments are not satisfied with the quality of trained teachers and that is why they came to us for assistance, she said.
Principal Secretary for Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Justin Saidi described the workshop as critical in uplifting education standards in the region saying the region cannot talk about education and forget teachers.
That is why you see government making sure that teachers are given appropriate teaching and learning materials, given accommodation where it is available and promoted. We need to have teachers that can move from one step to another, train them, coach them while at the same time upgrading them, he said.
Just like the UNESCO-ROSA Head of Education Unit, Saidi bemoaned the high pupil teacher ratio the country is experiencing saying government is addressing that through recruiting more teachers as well as constructing additional teacher training colleges.
For the last five years, government has recruited 48,000 teachers.
Meanwhile teacher training colleges are being constructed in Rumphi, Chikwawa and Mchinji.
Malawi National Commission for UNESCO Acting Deputy Executive Secretary, David Malera said despite challenges the education sector is facing in the region, CPD has made tremendous progress so far singling out Malawi as one which has done well.
There are nine countries in SADC region where UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa looks at and Malawi is one of the countries that have made very good progress in developing the CPD framework, he said.
Malera said the challenge has been having establishments that should put what has been developed into action as well as resource mobilization to support the implementation of the CPDs.
To understand the complexity of teacher issues in Southern Africa, the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa organised a series of meetings and consultations from 2015 to 2018 which generated evidence to advocate for the recognition of teachers as a priority issue on the SADC agenda.
The Workshop has drawn together stakeholders from the Ministries of Education, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Inter-Governmental Organizations, policy and decision makers from SADC region.
They will come up with recommendations that will be presented to the Minister of Education in the region will deliberate on what the experts have developed and then develop policies which will be implemented at national level.
Source: MANA Online