Teacher policy in Malawi should allow space for social dialogue
Teachers and other educators who attended a social dialogue workshop held in Lilongwe, Malawi recently agreed that social dialogue is critical in improving quality education. They urged the Ministry of Education to ensure that social dialogue as a means to consult and include all education stakeholders in decision-making features highly in the draft teacher policy currently under development.
The Director of Teacher Education and Training in the Ministry of Education, Misheck Munthali said social dialogue being one of the dimensions in the policy will ensure that conflicts that usually result in strikes or complains on social media will be minimized.
Annie Nhlane, a primary school teacher from Lilongwe said it is pertinent for the government to formalize structures for social dialogue.
The participants further said that the Teachers’ Union of Malawi is a critical stakeholder in ensuring that social dialogue is institutionalised and to ensure that its relationship with the Ministry of Education is less confrontational and more dialogue-oriented.
UNESCO, through the NTI project, organized a regional social dialogue meeting in Ghana in May 2019 where participants recognized the need for support in developing a framework for social and policy dialogue, as well as approaches to establishing and promoting social and policy dialogue amongst education stakeholders while developing a teacher policy at country level. Participating countries, including Malawi, agreed on a joint declaration to provide direction on the key engagements necessary for continued social dialogue.
A first social dialogue meeting in Malawi, held in February 2020, targeted three education divisions, mostly from the Southern part of Malawi. This second social dialogue meeting took place from 30 November to 3 December 2020. The meeting gathered 150 participants from the Ministry of Education and three districts, mostly from Central and Northern Malawi. Present were the education division managers from Central West, Central East, and the Northern Division as well as the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM) and the Private Secondary Employees Union of Malawi (PSEUM). District education managers or their representatives from 19 districts from these three divisions as well as deans of education, principles or representatives from universities and colleges were also present. Five teachers, two from primary and two from secondary school and a primary school advisor (PEA) represented each district.