By Esnath Kalawe & Joseph Chikalipo
The Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) has temporarily suspended the medical test policy for markers it wants to introduce following a meeting with Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Thursday in Lilongwe.
MANEB wants teachers selected to mark examinations to start undergoing medical checkup first before being given the role.
In a circular released on 12th February, 2019, MANEB says over the past years it has been experiencing increased cases of markers falling sick or dying thereby negatively affecting validity and reliability of examination results.
To this effect, MANEB says introduction of the medical test policy is one way of saving teachers’ lives.
But the development did not amuse TUM which said teachers were not consulted during the formulation process.
TUM’s General Secretary Charles Kumchenga expressed dissatisfaction in an interview saying MANEB did not follow the right procedure in coming up with the policy.
“TUM is an umbrella body for all teachers in Malawi; therefore, we should have been included in the process for MANEB to hear views of teachers as well,” Kumchenga said.
During the Thursday meeting, the two parties reached a consensus that in the 2019 marking year, teachers shall not be required to undergo medical checkup.
Furthermore, Kumchenga said TUM has requested MANEB to conduct a sensitization exercise first should it decide to implement the policy.
“We have asked MANEB to consult all relevant stakeholders so that they should know all the pros and cons of the proposed policy,” Kumchenga said.
In an interview, Kamkodola Primary School Headteacher Beatrice Gondwe congratulated TUM for speaking on behalf of all teachers regarding the proposed policy.
“Teachers should not be taken for granted; what MANEB did was typical segregation. Therefore, we thank TUM for airing out our views,” Gondwe said.
During the meeting, TUM also expressed concern over working conditions for markers.
It bemoaned that markers sleep in classrooms, start work around 3am up to 11 pm and receive little allowance, among other issues.
In response, MANEB promised to look into the issues raised.