Teacher Tuesday: Esnart Chapomba from Malawi


Today marks the start of the EFAReport’s 10-week campaign that has been dubbed ‘Teacher Tuesday’. Every Tuesday for the next 10 weeks, a teacher from a different part of the World will be discussing the issues that they face and what they feel needs to be done to improve education globally.

This week, it was Esnart Chapomba from Malawi‘s turn. Malawi has had a free education policy since 1994 and is currently working toward ensuring there are no more than 60 children per class around the country. Esnart discussed what affects him as an educator, including certain problems you may not have known about or expected.

Teacher shortages – The most prominent issue Esnart discusses is the chronic lack of teachers in Malawi. He describes how some rural schools, with pupil numbers in excess of 1000, have only 4 teachers. This grossly disproportionate ratio is sadly reflected throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO estimates 902,000 new primary school teachers will be needed to keep up with Sub-Saharan Africa’s projected population growth.

The poorest being hardest hit As is the general trend with global education, Esnart points out that it is children in the most rural and disadvantaged communities who are suffering the most. Esnart describes the difficulties of trying to teach a class of 230 pupils and how it simply isn’t manageable or feasible for one person. However, it isn’t just children who are suffering because of teacher shortages but also teachers themselves. Teachers are disenchanted and demotivated because of the circumstances they face, however the Malawian Government is trying to combat this by providing a stimulus for teachers in rural communities to better their lives.

Structures & Resources – Even items as basic as pencils and paper are scarce for Esnart and his colleagues, with up to 10 children sharing one textbook. Also, there are no classrooms big enough to accommodate due to the sheer size of classes which leads to lessons being taught outside which, because of the lack of structure, leads to a distracting teaching and learning environment.

Lack of Quality – This quote is taken directly from Esnart’s speech:

“You will be shocked to hear that some children in Malawi reach grades three and four without being able to add up, read or write. I’ve even seen children as old as 9 and 10 who are unable to read and write their names when clearly they should be able to do this. These children will miss out on good opportunities and will be without the skills they need to have a decent future.”

This only adds impetus to the need for not simply education but quality education which increases life chances and opens doors that otherwise remain firmly closed.

Dropout Rates – Possibly due to the demotivating effects of poor learning environments/lack of quality education, a significant number of pupils will drop out before completing primary level education. The dropout rate is also higher among girls (4% higher, to be exact) which unfortunately is prevalent throughout the developing world. Pupils deserve more conducive learning environments and egalitarian social structures.

All of the issues that Esnart brought up in his speech and more must be addressed if we are to see a truly fair, effective global education agenda in post-2015. This final quote from Esnart perfectly encapsulates the power education wields and the impact it can have in developing countries.

“An education must prepare our children to be productive citizens of our country so that we can lift ourselves out of the vicious cycle of poverty and have a better future.”



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