|Malawi: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 1999, 47 p.)|
|Chapter 6: Financial and Gender Issues|
Table 3.2 (Chapter 3) shows TTC enrolment figures by sex from 1991/1992 to 1995/96 academic years. It can be noted that the numbers for female students are consistently lower than those of their male counterparts. These figures on average constitute 38% of the total enrolment. The enrolment figures in TTCs have however increased for female students in recent years but their overall numbers reflect the number of women teachers in primary schools. Since most of the TTCs have in the past run residential courses, this probably reflects government policy which has in the past reserved only a third of all the boarding places for females. This helps to partly explain why enrolments for female students in colleges have more or less stagnated in the past only to start picking up in 1994/95 when most of the temporary teachers were operating from their homes.
In addition to the inefficiencies referred to above in the utilisation and deployment of teachers, there is considerable gender bias in the distribution of teachers by standard. Robinson et al (1994) found that the average proportion of female teachers varied inversely in relation to the standard. Std 1 had the highest proportion of female teachers, while Std 8 had the lowest.
These disparities also extend to location of schools with rural schools being at a disadvantage. Rural schools are at a decided disadvantage since they are less likely than urban areas to offer decent housing, and therefore have particular difficulty in attracting qualified teachers. In 1996, urban schools had a minimum pupil/qualified teacher ratio of 48:1 (Lilongwe) and a maximum of 92:1 (Zomba), while for rural schools, their minimum was 71:1 (Rumphi) and their maximum was 203:1 (Machinga). The 1996 education statistics show that urban schools have by far more female teachers than male teachers. This is because many female teachers follow their spouses to urban areas. This is unfortunate though because teaching as a profession is most popular in the rural areas and female teachers act as role models to girls in these areas and their presence would help in promoting education in the country.
Of course, the most concrete problem facing the primary education system in Malawi is the shortage of teachers. After several policy changes in teacher training, including special programmes such as MASTEP and now MIITEP, the system is still far short of the number of teachers needed to provide a pupil-teacher ratio of 50:1. It appears that as long as teacher-training output remains stable and primary enrolments continue to grow, pupil-teacher ratios will also continue to grow. We think that rather than simply thinking in terms of special projects such as MIITEP, government needs an ongoing comprehensive teacher education training programs. With enrolment surging every year, these one-time initiatives will not be able to meet the shortfall. As we are writing this report now, there is a clear lack of vision of what is going to happen after MIITEP. This is unfortunate since in the absence of any planning, future operations are bound to be ad hoc and hasty.