EducationOpinion

Invest in education, teachers deserve a better pay

Social media was last week awash with a video clip of an auxiliary teacher from Salima chanting joyfully with his pupils which drew mixed reactions with other quarters arguing the teacher needs motivation. Just yesterday, another picture from a primary school in Salima has gone viral which shows a teacher writing on a broken chalkboard. One wonders, as a country, what is our direction on investing in education?

Education is the only tool we can use to change the world; the words of a political liberator still bears testimony in today’s world. However, for that to happen several factors have to play an important part especially in the social welfare of a teacher.

Abraham Maslow in his theory of motivation alludes that for effective performance and results in an organization, there is a need to motivate the workers.

It is in this regard a good salary is a must in that respect. For one to fulfill both primary and secondary needs and arise in the channel to self-actualization needs an incentive of some sort.  

Yet, this is a perennial problem that so far has been on the public discourse. Trade unionists have gone on strike, workers have waged war, the endless battle of salary increment. Human beings by grand design have immersed power in themselves, however for it to be extracted the motivation from external force needs to be peddled on.

Teachers demonstrating against government’s decision not to provide them with risk allowance

Without circularity, the incentive of motivation remains a missing puzzle to end the skirmish battle between workers and employers. As such we have reached a point whereby when two elephants fight glass suffers. Leaners have beared the agony and their education plight has been buried in the sand over the decades. In short, peanut salaries have left our education standards in shambles and total despair.

To survive financially is not a mere joke nor something sentimental, but rather an ontological one. It is what gives life meaning and every human being has always yearned for its fulfillment. Lack of motivation in the education sector has so far defeated the whole purpose of Marva Collins argument on optimism and faith to a child. She proposes a shift of pendulum in educational approach from deficiencies focus to strengths focus. She argues that any teacher around the world should look and search endlessly for the seed in every child and cultivate it to its fullness.  

Much as she is right, but her argument overlooks the central point of what can motivate the teachers to such great heights of touching heaven. It baffles me that in this part of the globe teachers are not accorded their dignity and respect. Instead, they are exploited and institutions are at liberty to play jingle with them. Many are times they have demonstrated and marching to the capital, but their grievances always fall on deaf ears. They are spitted, trampled upon like the suffering servant yet their course of action has been always genuine.

In many government and private institutions, teachers cannot afford a decent meal for lunch.  As a way to quench the hunger drive in most cases, teachers seek refuge with Zigumu and tea yet their masters dine at the table at their own expense. How can one teach when he/she is in the quagmire of problems? Definitely, we cannot expect anything good in that regard echoing the phrase garbage in garbage out. The shrinking of our education standards is not a mare coincident but rather something man-made fashioned by our own hands.

Many public schools have no chairs, students sit on the floor during class lessons

To be precise political rhetoric has been a machination to bury teachers in the grave of extreme poverty. Promising teachers heaven has been a dominant routine hitherto. A conducive teaching environment and a good salary have been topping the list in the public discourse by political party gurus. But to what end has a teacher at Mchengautuwa or Nkando Community Day Secondary School benefitted? Lack of political pragmatism is a cancer-killing without remorse for teachers in this country.

One day when surfing on my phone, I almost collapsed with a revelation that we are almost at the end of log table of the poorest countries in the world.  I blinked for a while processing the hard truth in front of my eyes. After recovering from the shock, I realized that lack of proper investment in education has brought us this far.

As a country, we are good at manufacturing our own shit but failing to clear up the mess and enjoy the smell later on. I wonder like many who have wondered before, with the culture of always inviting strangers, people who don’t understand our language and problems to clear the mess for us. It is evident for decades we have suffered from a lack of self-esteem and awareness as far as education priorities and driving forward the economy of this country is concerned.

Many public schools lack teaching and learning materials

Primarily, teachers steer the wheel of any country’s development, they sit at the center, the folk point of existence.  However, such facts seem to be underrated. Most often we prefer to hide the lamp under the bowl and allow ignorance to reign in our children. For argument’s sake, people say universities produce have baked graduates nowadays. Such are the arguments that reduce our education status quo to a mere joke. But to this far, we still ask the cardinal question as to whose problem? The old-age mishap has been a lack of incentives to better the lives of men and women, the patriotic civil servants who accelerate education.

Nevertheless, the tendency of glorifying oppression is deeply rooted among ourselves. It’s high time we start pushing for meaningful change riding the boat with teachers until the victory is won. Government should walk the talk by refusing rhetoric to political pragmatism. Otherwise, if we continue traveling this road of exploiting teachers and using them as means to an end. The Malawi 2063 dream will be a mere utopia, a delusion par-excellence. Let’s give our teachers the economic freedom they deserve for a better and prosperous generation.

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