18 May, 2018

Dr. Sosu (standing) making a presentation during the discussion
Academicians and researchers in Malawi and the United Kingdom (UK)) have recommended that a policy that would require a diploma to be a minimum qualification for primary school teachers and a degree for secondary school teachers be introduced in the country. This was said on Wednesday, the 16th of May 2018 during a policy research roundtable discussion held at Ufulu Gardens in Lilongwe.

As part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 which is “drive to achieve inclusive and equitable education”, a team of academicians and researchers from the University of Strathclyde in UK, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), on Wednesday held a research policy roundtable discussion on improving education in Malawi.

The discussion, which was held under the theme “Evident into Action: Promoting Equitable Access to Quality Education in Malawi,” aimed at developing a stakeholder network for driving research informed policy making in Malawi.
During the discussion, it transpired that there was a need to introduce diploma and degree programmes in primary school education.

Dr. Edward Sosu, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde in UK, said the team has embarked on a project to improve quality of education through research based policies. Speaking in an interview, he said researchers and policy makers should work together in making policies.

“As long as we know that there are challenges in the education system in Malawi in terms of quality and access, one of the ways of addressing such challenges is to draw on the knowledge that we generate from research to formulate policies. For that to happen, we need academics, policy makers and other stakeholders to collaborate” he said.

Dr. Sosu said for education standards to improve in the country, we need to have teachers with vast knowledge and good qualifications such as diplomas and degrees in both primary and secondary schools.

Asked whether the teachers might be willing to work in poor conditions that they are exposed to in most primary schools in Malawi while having diplomas and degrees, Dr. Sosu said the government should also improve working conditions for teachers and give them salary that will motivate them. He said for the quality of education to improve, welfare of teachers must be considered.

“If you want to increase the quality of education in Malawi, you have to look at all aspects and an important aspect is the remuneration of teachers. If the remuneration of teachers is not that good, many people who study education will move and work in the other sectors. The reform in education or the training of teachers should go hand in hand with the reform in the working conditions of those teachers,” said Dr. Sosu.

According to Head of Agriculture Education and Development Communication Department at LUANAR, Dr. Felix Maulidi, the idea of introducing diplomas for primary school teachers is viable in Malawi as it is also happening in other countries.

“It is very possible to have diplomas for primary school teachers in Malawi. In most countries people have gone to a degree level. Having a diploma in primary education is something we have to do in whatever the case,” said Dr. Maulidi, adding that the only challenge we have now is the capacity to offer such programmes in teachers training colleges.

Dr. Maulidi went further to say that Malawi Government should review its education policies and must introduce policies based on research. He said most of the policies that we have were not formulated based on research.

“The major problem that we have discovered is that most of the policies that are being formulated and being implemented at the moment are policies that were not formulated based on evidence. This time around we are saying the policy makers and the researchers should work together. If the policy makers have an issue, they can contact the researchers to do a research then come up with evidence which then the policy makers can use to create policies,” he said.

He further mentioned that there is a gap between policy makers and researchers and needs to be closed and if we do that, probability is high that it will contribute to improving the quality of education in the country.

Currently, Domasi College of Education has introduced a bachelor’s degree programme in primary education.