“The problem of having too few teachers had a great effect on the pupils at our school,” says Joyce, one of the pupils of the Kalitubi primary school in Malawi. Some days we only had two subjects and other days we just sat waiting for a teacher to show up.”

The Kalitubi primary school is one of the eight primary schools in Edingeni that suffered from the shortage of teachers, on top of the other problems with education in Malawi. “There was only one teacher for every 115 pupils, while the government had promised one for every 60. This had a bad effect on the conditions for learning. The dedicated teachers were under great pressure,“ so primary education adviser Stella sums up the situation. The village community pinpointed the shortage of primary school teachers as one of the biggest problems in education. A lobby committee was formed and trained with support from Help a Child. This committee put their problem to government organizations at local and district level. The committee held various meetings with the government. “At first, to little effect. The civil servants of the Ministry of Education kept telling us that the government was not obliged to appoint teachers in our area. But we stood our ground and insisted that the government was responsible for providing sufficient teachers,” says committee chairman Macdonald looking back. The committee’s perseverance finally resulted in 64 teachers being appointed at various schools in the area. Four teachers were appointed at the Kalitubi primary school, bringing the current total to seven teachers. “We are extremely happy that our demand was finally met, so that our children can learn in better conditions. But we will continue to lobby the government for more teachers until the government meets its own standard,” says Macdonald.

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