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Sunday, October 14th, 2018

 

Save the Children speaks with children that survived August bus attack in Yemen

“I feel my friend’s pain and my pain. I don’t feel anything else”

  • 12-year-old Yemeni boy in severe distress following deadly school bus attack in Saada
  • A generation of children in need of mental health support to avert lifelong psychological damage, warns Save the Children

Sanaa, 15 October – 12-year-old *Khaled was on his way to a picnic when a deadly airstrike hit his school bus, killing 40 children in northern Saada province, Yemen, on August 9. Not only was he badly injured in the attack, putting him in a wheelchair since, the horrifying experience has also left him feeling anguished and numb.

*Khaled told Save the Children: “We were happy, we were going to [play]. When we reached the market there were people there, and everything [was as usual]. Then there was firing. I couldn’t find my friends. I feel my friend’s pain and my pain. I don’t feel anything else.”

Following the airstrike, *Khaled told Save the Children staff that he has trouble sleeping at night and becomes scared when he hears the sound of airplanes soaring overhead.

*Khaled: “I wish that the war stops so I can continue to learn and build my life and achieve my dreams. I want the war to stop so they stop killing children, women and men. What is their sin?”

*Khaled’s mother told Save the Children: “Suddenly I saw people hurry to the bus. What is wrong? What happened? They said the bus was hit, that no kids survived. Everyone was looking for their kids… Then they admitted [my son] to the intensive care unit… We spent 22 days [in hospital]. There was pus coming out of his eyes, his ears bleeding, his nose was stitched, they have operated everywhere on him, behind his ears, fragments in his head. They said his leg is damaged; they [took] 16 x-rays [of him].”

Yemen is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child today. A child in Yemen has already lived through more than 18,000 airstrikes in his or her lifetime. The ongoing brutality means children are being consistently exposed to extreme violence, further heightening the risk of psychological damage.

The children of Yemen have watched their friends and family members die before their eyes or be buried under the rubble of their collapsing homes. They have watched their schools and hospitals be targeted and destroyed, been denied access to life-saving food and medicine, and have been torn apart from the life they once knew. The prolonged exposure to war, stress and uncertainty can be extremely upsetting for children and create issues and challenges that last a lifetime.

Yet Yemen has barely any mental health services or sufficient support for children suffering from distress. More than half of all health facilities have closed or are only partially functioning. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2017 only 40 psychiatrists were working in the country-that’s about one psychiatrist for approximately every 700,920 people. To make matters worse, the problems for children suffering mental health issues and the support they need are not well recognized or understoodhttp://sanaacenter.org/publications/analysis/5119 in Yemeni society.

Save the Children is warning that there could be long-term psychological damage to a generation of children as a result of this conflict unless more mental health and psychosocial support is provided. With the right help, many of the harms can be mitigated and healed.

A survey published in 2018 that spoke to nearly 1,000 children in Sana’a, found that 79 per cent showed signs of serious psychological consequences as a result of the conflict. The study reveals that in the first year of the conflict family members began noticing children bedwetting, refusing to be alone or not wanting to leave the house.

Research in other parts of the Middle East by Save the Children last year found exposure to prolonged conflicts has a devastating effect on children’s mental health and wellbeing. We found evidence of what experts call ‘toxic stress’-the most dangerous form of stress a child can experience, which is caused by strong, frequent or prolonged adversity without adequate caregiver support. If left untreated, ‘toxic stress’ can have a lifelong impact on children’s mental and physical health.

Kelly McBride, Save the Children’s Regional Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Technical Advisor, said:

“Children in Yemen, who make up nearly half of the population, are exposed to a myriad of stress factors. Given the developmental stage that children are in, they are extremely vulnerable in times of crisis. Without security in their lives, they are unable to learn the very basic skills that are needed to thrive. This can severely impact their immediate and long-term mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

“Children in conflict zones often experience bedwetting, nightmares, hypervigilance, grief, depression, anxiety, aggression, feeling withdrawn, and numerous other challenges. This can impair their ability to engage in daily life, including an inability to focus or perform well in school, learn new information, form relationships and attachments, or find a sense of safety.

“There is little community awareness in Yemen of how to support children and families whose mental health and wellbeing are suffering. Also, many of those who suffer from severe distress do not have access to the services they need due to general lack of trained staff and stigma. This is a gap the international community is trying to fill during this critical time.”

Save the Children specialists on the ground are supporting *Khaled and other children affected by the bus attack through intensive psychosocial support and covering their families’ transportation costs to and from hospital. Save the Children has reached more than 12,500 children like *Khaled through its mental health and psychosocial support programmes in Yemen this year, but we need to reach many more.

Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director, said:

“Brutal violence, including explosive weapons and bullets, continues to take an unacceptable toll on children. We call on all parties to the conflict to take immediate measures to prevent grave violations against children and find a peaceful political solution to end this conflict. The consequences of this conflict will have a lasting impact on the country for years to come. It is paramount that the international community comes together to ensure these children get the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

With the right help, most children in Yemen will eventually be able to recover and have a normal life. But without an urgent boost to the provision of mental health and psychosocial support, Yemen’s children could be left with lifelong suffering and diminished long-term prospects.

Notes to editors:


ICT firm, iMoSyS, contributes K3 million towards engineers’ conference

Good gesture-Nkoloma(left) presenting cheque to Chizalema

Blantyre, October 10, 2018— Malawi’s an upcoming ICT company iMoSyS, is pleased to announce the donation of K3 million to the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) as a contribution towards the organisation’s Annual Lake shore conference in Mangochi.

The conference is scheduled from October 18 –19, 2018 at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge, under the theme Championing Sustainable Energy and Water Development”. 

Speaking during the cheque presentation in Blantyre, iMoSyS Chief Executive Officer Mayamiko Nkoloma said the company felt obliged to support the engineers because of its remarkable role it plays in promoting the advancement of technology in the country.

“As a truly Malawian ICT company we felt obliged to supporting this conference because iMoSyS appreciates and value the role of engineers plays in enhancing infrastructure development which in turn fosters economic growth of the country,” said Nkoloma.

Nkoloma said engineering profession is a critical input in economic development growth efforts in Malawi.

“We believe that gatherings like of engineers provides a platform for professionals to discuss issues for the common good of our business and economic growth for Malawi. iMoSyS is striving to enhance sustainable development of engineering to drive effective delivery of telecommunication and ICT products and services,” he said.

Receiving the donation MIE Executive Secretary Engineer Martin Chizalema hailed iMoSyS for the support towards the conference.

“We are very grateful to iMoSyS for this kind gesture as this money will go a long way towards meeting the expenses for the indaba. Apart from hosting the conference the institution will give back to the community around Mangochi,” said Chizalema

The conference which is being hosted in collaboration with the Malawi Board of Engineers is expected to attract over 300 leading professional Engineers, Technicians and Non-engineers working in various public and private sectors including Chief Executives and Senior Government officials.

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Z Allan Ntata’s Uncommon Sense: SHOULD MALAWI BE LED BY FOREIGNERS TO SUCCEED?

Chakwera’s thinking is strange indeed for a man aspiring for the presidency! The solution to the failures in Malawi’s various institutions is to simply open up the leadership of those institutions to foreigners?

On the offensive and seeking to make a statement that can make waves in similar manner to Peter Mutharika’s “ton of bricks” and Saulosi Chilima’s “mwambi wa lero”, MCP leader Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, PhD. enunciated an astonishing if controversial statement. Speaking on the issue of the government’s failure to fight corruption, Dr. Chakwera suggested that the job of ACB director should be open to any qualified individuals including non-Malawians.

The statement as headlined in the media suggested that the MCP leader was so frustrated with ACB incapability and so keen on seeing some progress in the corruption fight that he believes having a non-Malawian leading that organization could be the answer. Malawian heads of that organization, surmised Chakwera, have essentially all proved to be too prone to bow to executive interference.  A foreigner, a non-Malawian would be more independent, and corruption would be eliminated. That, folks, seems to be the gospel according Dr. Lazarus Chakwera PhD.

Lazarus ChakweraMCP Leader Lazarus Chakwera

The root cause of ACB ineffectiveness is not the fact that it is led by Malawians, but the fact that the rotten Malawian governance framework makes it possible for our so-called ruling parties and especially the executive to interfere with the independence of institutions and government departments that need to be independent for our democracy to function properly. The dangerous progression of Chakwera’s logic would see us thinking that the Malawi Police Service, MACRA, and even MRA should all be headed by foreigners as a solution to executive interference.

Chakwera’s thinking is strange indeed for a man aspiring for the presidency! The solution to the failures in Malawi’s various institutions is to simply open up the leadership of those institutions to foreigners? What does this say about the greatest failure of all in this country- that of the presidency, the very position Chakwera himself is eagerly aspiring for?

The evidence, gleaned from the issue that president Peter Mutharika prioritized to address on his return from UNGA, is that against all common sense, in a demonstration of a regrettable disconnect from what really matters to the people, Our President is more concerned about Malawians demonstrating about their grievances than addressing the problems that are causing those demonstrations.

To Peter Mutharika, no one should protest or even raise a whimper when his administration seems determined to misgovern and keep misgoverning Malawi until the country is buried six feet deep, as a result of the unchecked corruption, blatant nepotism and poverty of leadership.

As many others have said elsewhere, perhaps it would have been better if the country was running on autopilot because on autopilot, technology takes over while unmanned as Malawi is, gravity brings everything down.

Ours is a case where the pilot has abandoned the cockpit 30,000meters above sea level, to make merry in the business class while seeking more affluent party space – without engaging the plane on autopilot – leaving us all in grave danger.

The result is a president ignorant of happenings in his own country, in his own administration and worse, even in his own cabinet. How can he follow developments having relinquished control of the cockpit, where all the control apps and informatics are?

This is why no amount of window-dressing is succeeding to camouflage Mutharika’s failures, his unfitness for purpose, and his party’s addiction to greed.

Could Dr Chakwera PhD. be the solution to this tragedy then? Should we go back to being ruled by foreigners. Is it perhaps time to forfeit our so-called independence and return to colonial days?

The question I often get after many of my ominous diagnoses such as this one is, ‘Z. Allan, sure you can talk and you’re right, but so what? What’s next?’

For answers, let us look to the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), and its preoccupation with regime change.

NIB’s nightmare, knowing as it does the wide-ranging discontent that Mutharika has bred, is regime change. Now, assuming NIB is right, then we all ought to help NIB’s machinations become real by giving this matter some serious thought.

Let’s face it. Without regime change, we are licensing the DPP to continue with its bad governance programme until 2099 (as one misguided DPP podium boot-licker put it). If we allow this to happen, then we are indeed the daftest species plying the earth.

The question is no longer whether those protesting mediocrity really want regime change, no. This is a foregone conclusion.

The question at hand is: once we get rid of Mutharika today, who should come next?  To whom can we look for help and hope? Indeed it is when one looks at those aspiring for the presidency, or the parties interested in displacing the DPP, that the headache begins.

I wish I could, here and now, declare: “Ladies and Gentlemen, let us look to the Leader of Opposition, Dr Lazarus Chakwera and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP)”.

But how can I? That statement about opening important institutional jobs to foreigners is a last straw on a pile of many suspicious moves and leadership failures on his part that I would caution all serious Malawians to be very afraid of this man.

I wish I could, right now, declare: “Ladies and Countrymen, our hope lies in ‘Dr’ Joyce Banda (honorary PhD).”

Sadly, this is equally unfeasible.

Let me put it this way. No one can run a political party like a Church, just as a Church cannot be run like a party. Politics and religious issues – where people follow blindly – are different. The Peoples Party (PP) is a virtual non-starter. Even from planet Mars you can surmise that in spite of all Joyce Banda’s noisemaking n the eastern region, that party is virtually dead.

As for Atupele Muluzi, forget him. Ever since he pirated Siku Motors’ motto: ‘Here today, There tomorrow’, only the people directly benefitting from his see-saw politics take him seriously. Now there is even a rumor of him being appointed as second Vice President to Peter Mutharika. Talk about selling one’s birthright for a mess of pottage!

So here we are: devoid of leadership in the incumbent, and those on the touchline can hardly get it up.

He has finally demonstrated that he loves Malawi enough to denounce the sinking Titanic that is taking us all down and has been bold enough to jump ship. Yet for all the claims of new politics, we are yet to witness his private sector experience, education and comparative youth at play. Does he have what it takes to reign in the ex DPP crowd and truly take over the captaincy of his own ship and steer it in the right direction? In spite of compelling ideas and seemingly powerful manifesto possibilities and governance promises, it will be difficult for him to convince us that he is for new politics when there is a continued perception that his movement is spearheaded by the very people that created the greedy and corrupt DPP.

To hit the nail on the head: does he have the guts to make the tough decisions regarding his own people or like the Leader of Opposition, he is happy as long as he gets a little fame and a little popularity, and feels some illusion of the power that comes with being a leader of a movement or a party?

The bottom line is: without a viable alternative, Malawians can only suffer and wilt with despair knowing that as things stand, there is no super substitute on the bench. If we do have a super sub, he needs to really stand out.

I weep for Malawi. For hope, however, we cannot, like Chakwera, proclaim that we should bring in foreigners. The solutions for Malawi are well known. They must begin at transforming this country’s rotten governance framework and the practice of new politics. The power to do that lies within us all.

Malawians.  Not foreigners.

Allan NtataZ Allan Ntata

Allan Ntata’s Column can be read every Sunday on the Maravi Post

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Charity or commerce? Hidden home truths about orphanages

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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By KAREN MBUYA MURIUKI
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The festive season is approaching and, in a few weeks, many Kenyans are expected to throng children’s homes with lavish donations as has been the tradition.

Bales of foodstuff, bundles of clothes, loads of toiletries and tonnes of motivational words and prayers will accompany the visits as Kenyans actualise their desire to celebrate with the less fortunate.

But while many people think having children at orphanages is a brilliant idea, an American rights organisation that investigated such facilities in Kenya for two years is questioning the impact of this model on children’s well-being.

Disability Rights International (DRI) says it is preferable that well-wishers support family members of the children and not orphanages, noting that the children centres can cause psychological damage to minors and that they are often money-minting schemes.

‘BOOMING BUSINESS’

In a report it released on September 27, the 25-year-old organisation based in Washington DC starts its argument by repeating a sentence from an opinion article written by its president, Laurie Ahern, that was published by theWashington Postin August 2013.

“In many developing countries, it has been observed that orphanages have become a booming business. And children are the commodity,” Laurie had written.

The rights group further argues that most children in orphanages are, in fact, not orphans.

“They have living parents and extended families. Poverty and the belief by families that their children will be better off in institutions … drive them to give up their children,” says the report written by eight foreigners and the head of the Kenyan Association for the Intellectually Handicapped.

The findings were as a result of visits to various orphanages in Kenya between 2016 and 2018.

“By supporting orphanages rather than parents — many of whom are desperate to keep their children — donations are effectively splitting families apart and leaving children exposed to neglect, abuse, and trafficking,” warns the organisation.

But months before the American lobby released its findings, a team sanctioned by the State to look into the operations of children protection services had also recommended the abolition of facilities where minors are raised communally in favour of family-based approaches.

The team started its work after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a moratorium in 2014 that halted inter-county child adoption and stopped the registration of new children’s homes.

MORE HARM THAN GOOD

Which raises the question: Are we witnessing the last days of children orphanages as we know them?

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani toldLifestyleon Thursday that “it looks unlikely” that the government will register new orphanages again.

“We are looking at ways of integrating these children’s families and society as they grow up, so that they are not detached from the day-to-day matters facing families and society,” he said.

Mr Yattani agreed with DRI’s assertion that orphanages do more harm than good.

“At the centres, the children might get physical support in terms of food, shelter and clothing. But there is the other bigger challenge of socio-psychological support that is required, which can only be found within the family or the society,” he said.

“Once you put them in homes, you isolate them from the society. So, that is the psychological stigma that they will experience when they grow up.

“Re-integrating them to the society is not very easy if they are kept in institutions. It is because of that that we are no longer registering children’s homes,” added Mr Yattani.

The government may have one more reason to forever halt the registration of new orphanages following the scathing criticism from the Disability Rights International researchers, who visited 21 facilities around Kenya — some housing disabled children and others with normal ones.

Labour and social protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani.Labour and social protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

MISUSE OF FUNDS

One aspect they pointed out is the misappropriation of donor money.

“DRI found orphanages supported by thousands of dollars through mission trips and volunteers. Yet at the same facilities children are still living in squalor or worse,” they write.

They named a children’s home in Nairobi that asks for $50 (Sh5,045) to sponsor a child.

“According to the director, 35 children are being sponsored thus far. Yet there are only two non-professional staff for 60 children,” the investigators write.

They add: “In every single institution DRI visited, we found that there were few staff taking care of the children. Moreover, staff was not trained and in several places we found teenagers taking care of other children.”

Then there is the curious case of a child with hydrocephalus (liquid accumulation in the head) who had not been taken to hospital for a long time because the management of the orphanage — located in one of Nairobi’s sprawling slums — said they had no funds to get him medical attention.

When the team revisited the facility a few days before releasing their report, they found the boy missing.

“Staff reported that the child had received treatment and was ‘cured’, but they could not account for where the child was now residing,” states the document.

The eight-member team that conducted the investigations comprises lawyer Priscila Rodríguez who is the associate director of DRI, the organisation’s president Laurie Ahern, human rights investigator John Bradshaw, Arlene Kanter who is a professor at the Syracuse University College of Law, lawyer Milanoi Koiyiet, Colombia University adjunct professor Robert Levy, disability services specialist Melanie Reeves, lawyer Eric Rosenthal who is also DRI’s executive director, and Fatma Wangare who is the director of the Kenyan Association for the Intellectually Handicapped.

Their report is titledInfanticide and Abuse: Killing and Confinement of Children with Disabilities in Kenya.

CHILDREN EXPLOITED

They describe, rather unapprovingly, the trend whereby orphanage owners convince poor families that they can nurture their children and once they are allowed to have them, they house them in places where volunteers are allowed to visit them anyhow, regardless of the fact that some may be sex pests.

In their research they spoke to an unnamed government official from the Social Protection ministry who admitted that sexual exploitation is a reality in children’s orphanages.

“People are paying to come, people are paying school fees for children and they are sexually exploiting them,” the government official is quoted as saying in the report.

Moreover, DRI spoke with a chief in Murang’a County who was brutally honest on the topic, admitting that “orphanages are not good places”.

“Orphanages realised that if they had more children they could get more donations. At first, they only had local donations but now they started getting international donations. As they received more money, they realised they could use it for themselves,” the chief said.

“They receive donations from people and misuse the resource, buying the most expensive cars for themselves while the children remain isolated from their families,” he added.

He also informed the investigators that several children in orphanages go home during school holidays, which led DRI to make an inference that “the great majority of institutions do not try to reach out and support children to remain with their families”.

But Mr Paul Gitari, who is the director of Oasis of Peace, a Children’s Home in Gachoka, Embu County, that houses 40 children, argues that there is a noble reason why children have to be housed under one roof.

“Most of our children are orphaned and come from poor backgrounds. We take them in and care for them because we know how difficult it may be for a grandparent to raise them — financially and also because of age,” he toldLifestyle.

Mr Gitari added that having children at an orphanage until they are adults ensures they have emotional stability.

“Moving them from one home to another plays with their emotions, and they are often left insecure emotionally. Children should be allowed to grow up in safe and secure places for their own good,” said Mr Gitari.

Mr Gitari’s is one of the many orphanages giving refuge to vulnerable Kenyan children. Some are more than two decades old and they offer interventions to breakdowns in parenting as a result of HIV, family conflict, outdated cultural practices, neglect, among other reasons.

DRI estimates that there are 1,500 orphanages in Kenya.

“But there are no reliable estimates of the number of children in those orphanages,” it states.

Whenever one visits each of these care centres, those running them often provide touching justifications for what they are doing.

At Mr Gitari’s Oasis of Peace, for instance, there is a unique way of ensuring that children grow up as well-rounded individuals.

“Instead of dormitories, we have normal bedrooms for the children. This tends to change their mentality about the situation and make them always feel as if they are home. We also have meals at the same time and we take this time to interact with them on a one-on-one basis,” said Mr Gitari, whose organisation takes in children aged between eight and 18.

He also blasted those who use the plight of children to make money.

“Sadly, pocketing money from donors is a common occurrence with children’s homes owners in Kenya that should stop,” he said.

While individuals like Mr Gitari might be meaning well for the children under their care, DRI thinks the better way out is to empower societies to nurture the children at their homes.

“Kenya must create support programmes for at-risk families so that no child is placed in an orphanage or institution of any kind,” it says in its recommendations.

It adds: “All children with and without a disability need the love and care of a family. Extensive research now shows that placing any child in an institution (or residential programme of any size) can cause psychological damage and lead to increased developmental disabilities.”

VULNERABLE

At more than half of the institutions they visited, they write, they were told that most children had parents.

“In one institution [name withheld] the director told DRI investigators that more than half of the children were from single mothers,” says the report.

“In another institution [name withheld] the director told us that they received several children from teenage girls who would not or could not keep their children. In this institution, DRI found one child that was one-week old who had just been given up by his teenage mother.”

Another recommendation from DRI is that Kenya should ban foreigners from volunteering at orphanages, given the many well-documented cases of foreign citizens who sexually abused children in the guise of giving a helping hand.

The most recent case happened in July when Keith Morris, a British national, was found guilty of four counts of rape.

For about 20 years, Morris befriended families at a remote Kenyan village where he financially sponsored several families. He would take groups of children on day trips and on several occasions in 2016 and 2017, he defiled girls.

Mr Yattani, the Social Services minister, said some of DRI’s recommendations are similar to those raised by the team appointed by the President, adding that discussions are ongoing on how to actualise them.

But even as Mr Yattani was confident that the government’s move to pause registration of children’s home will check against the free fall, the other sad reality uncovered by DRI was that the current ones are housing far more than their capacity.

Furthermore, they found out that “children are in unregulated and uncounted institutions”, meaning some could be cropping up without the regulators’ knowledge.

An orphanage in one of the Nairobi slums was a glaring example of overcrowding when the researchers moved around.

“In one room, there were 10 beds for 30 children. By 5pm all the children were being put to bed. According to one volunteer, they are left in their beds from 5pm until 6am the next day,” says the report.

So, as you head to that orphanage to share gifts and hugs, spare a moment to think about the environment in which the child is growing up.


Auditors’ saliva for allowances impeding teachers’ salary arrears payment-TUM

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Teacher Union of Malawi (TUM) on Friday slammed auditors who have been assigned to verify salaries arrears in district councils over their tendencies of demanding allowances before work.

The demand for allowances has delayed the process of accounts verification as some councils are unable to meet the auditors demands.

This is happening despite the auditors getting fully monthly payment from government; meaning, they are getting two salaries.

TUM Secretary General Charles Kumchenga told the news conference in the capital Lilongwe during the commemoration of 2018 World Teachers Day which falls on October 5 saying teachers are still suffering due to salary arrears delays.

The presser which TUM and its partners; Action Aid and Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) held aimed at advocating for increased access to quality CPDs for teachers and among others.

Kumchenga wondered why auditors continue to demand allowance when all in all get monthly salaries for the same work.

“This is unacceptable that auditors be demanding allowance when government given them monthly payment. This has delayed the verification process as some councils are unable to meet the demand.

“We are therefore urging government to work with urgency on this matter as the salary arrears is a long time standing issue,” urges Kumchenga.

CSEC’s programs officer Kissa Kumwenda also urged government to provide adequate resources in public primary and secondary schools to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Echoing on the same Yandula Chipeta of Action Aid demanded proper tax justice that serves the poor amid insufficient of resources to run public schools in Malawi.

TEACHERS’ ISSUES AND THEIR PROPOSED SOLUTIONS TO BE PRESENTED TO THE PRESS FOR 2018 WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY PRESS BRIEFING

ISSUES:

  1. Salary Arrears
  • When TUM organized an industrial action on the matter in July, the government persuaded TUM not to take such action promising to settle all outstanding arrears as soon as possible. But up until now, some teachers have still not received their salary arrears.
  • The newly recruited teachers (10,000 IPTE 10-1 and ODL5 primary school teachers and 1,200 secondary school teachers) have also accrued arrears making the situation even worse
  1. Promotions
  • A lot of teachers have stayed on one grade for long (some over 20 years)
  • Promotion of teachers in the country done almost in 2013, five years ago.
  • When eventually promoted, it takes time for the teachers’ salary to be adjusted accordingly.
  1. Self-upgraded teachers
  • Over 700 teachers have upgraded themselves to Diploma and Degree holders but their new qualifications are not being recognized by the government.
  • Some of these were even trained by the same government that is ignoring them now
  • With their new qualification, some are supposed to be teaching in TTCs and some in secondary schools but most are still teaching in primary schools
  • Some have started teaching in CDSSs but are still getting primary school salaries
  1. Shortage of teachers’ Houses
  • Teachers in the country still living in dilapidated houses due to shortage of decent teacher houses in schools especially in rural areas
  • As a result, teachers are forced to rent houses which makes cost of living high for them on their already inadequate salaries
  • And for those in rural areas, houses for rent are usually found at long distances increasing the probability of a teacher being late for his/her duties. Thereby negatively affecting leaners’ right to education.

 

  1. Rural Allowance
  • Rural allowance system having several discrepancies, making it not serve its intended purpose of attracting teachers to the rural areas and retaining them.
  • Some teachers who teach in schools that qualify as hard to reach areas are not getting the allowance
  • Without a strong monitoring system, when teachers transfer from these hard to reach areas, they still continue getting the allowance
  • In some cases, two schools- a primary and a secondary school- adjacent to each other, teachers in the primary schools get the allowance but those teaching at the secondary school are not getting.
  1. Access to Continuous Professional Development
  • Some teachers have been in the service for a long time without access to CPD
  • The curricula have been changing without teachers being properly trained in the new ones yet expected to effectively deliver
  • In teacher colleges, teachers trained on how to handle 60 leaners (as is the ideal ratio) yet reality on the ground has teachers handling up to 150 leaners at a time
  • Teachers handling leaners with special needs without being properly trained on the same
  • In short, the demands being placed on teachers are always changing yet teachers are rarely trained to respond to these changes.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS:

 

  1. Salary arrears
  • Government should audit all teachers’ files by 31st October 2018 and pay accordingly.
  • Since one of the reason delaying the settlement of these arrears is lack of adequate auditing personnel, government should increase its workforce to speed up the process
  • When teacher have been deployed, government should ensure they are inserted on the payroll the same month to avoid accruing arrears
  • Government should have a systematic method of identifying and resolving teacher arrears without pressure from the Teachers Union of Malawi.
  1. Promotions
  • Government should have a deliberate policy in place on the when, how and who for promoting teachers so that it should be impossible for a teacher to serve at one grade for as long as 20 years
  • When promoting teachers, government should also consider the teachers’ actual performance at school level and not merely relying on the individual’s performance during interviews (substantive promotion)
  • Personal to holder promotion should be inserted
  • When promoted, salaries should be adjusted the same month the promotion has been infected.

 

  1. Self-upgraded teachers
  • Government should ensure every teacher is working in institution matching his/her qualification
  • Salaries of these self-upgraded teachers must upgraded accordingly
  • Promotion for these individuals must be automatic without asking them to go through interviews first

 

  1. Shortage of teacher houses
  • Government should ensure that each school has ‘enough’ teacher houses
  • Government and donor partners should prioritize the construction of teacher houses
  • Communities must also be encouraged to take part in constructing teacher houses
  • Teacher houses that are in poor conditions must be rehabilitated or refurbished

 

  1. Hard to reach area allowance
  • The package should be adjusted from MK10,000 to make it more attractive so it can serve its intended purpose.
  • Areas should be categorized on how hard they are to reach and the packages should reflect this categorization
  • All teachers who qualify to benefit for this scheme should do so
  • Its monitoring system should be strengthened so that only teachers that need to be benefiting from the scheme are benefiting

 

  1. Access to CPD
  • Teachers should have CPD frequently and adequately and whenever need arises
  • The trainers for the CPDs should be individuals who are qualified and well experienced
  • The chain of training (i.e from the ministry to the DEM to the PEA to key teachers to teachers) should be shortened to minimize the risk of missing information
  • CPDs should be conducted with enough resources e.g books and finances so that teachers are motivated during the CPD.

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How to get that job you so badly need

By CHRIS HART
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The world economy is getting unpredictable again, which means job losses are inevitable.

But don’t panic. Because if you’re well prepared and the worst does happen, you’ll find a new job pretty quickly. And quite likely a better one.

But you must take action now. Start by constantly building on your skills. Especially those valued by employers everywhere: Accepting responsibility, managing your time, problem solving, working well in a team and contributing to discussions.

Work your network so you hear about problems at your workplace before they affect your job — and opportunities elsewhere before everyone else does.

JOB INTERVIEW

Learn how to customise your CV to match the style of each company you apply to. Perfect paper, typing and layout. Keep it tight, and focus on your most important achievements, not just your history and qualifications.

Write a covering letter that addresses the selection criteria for the job.

Get to interviews early — no excuse is ever good enough for being late. But there’s no point even turning up if you haven’t done your homework properly. Because if your background, skills, experience and style aren’t right, you’re not going to get on well even if you do get the job.

Think too about your core values. Like if you’re okay with cutting a few corners, and your target company is known for its integrity, then you won’t get on well. So only apply for jobs where the fit’s pretty good.

And make sure you know everything you should before you arrive. What the organisation does. What the job involves. Who’s who, especially the boss.

Work on your interview technique. Especially the first few minutes, because first impressions are everything.

Like make sure you know each organisation’s dress code. Because they’ll only offer you a job if they can visualise you working there. So choose clothes that say you’ll fit in.

Stand tall, and give a firm, dry handshake. Make good eye contact, and smile warmly. Practice your opening words so you can introduce yourself well. Mirror the “body language” of your interviewer. Especially how you sit and use your hands.

CONFIDENCE

Be alert and look confident, even if you don’t feel it! Ease your nervousness by talking to someone — the receptionist, a secretary — just before the interview. It’ll get your brain in gear.

And if you’re being interviewed by more than one person, make sure you make eye contact with everyone. Listen closely, speak clearly, and show by your gestures and facial expressions that you’re receptive to the interviewer’s line of thought.

Answer their questions as honestly as possible, never bluff, and don’t ever be tempted to slag off a previous employer.

They might have been awful, but choose something else to talk about! It’s a huge turn off.

Above all, make sure you actually enjoy the whole experience! It’s not often you get a chance to talk about yourself with someone who really wants to know.

And your pleasure will tell the interviewer you’re right for the job …


Have we forgotten about the infamous MK236bn Cashgate in Malawi?

Written By Steve Nhlane

Former president Bakili Muluzi once said “ Amalawi sachedwa kuyiwala (Malawians forget quickly).” He was referring to the atrocities the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) committed during its 31 years in power under the reign of Kamuzu Banda. And they are not few.

Ironically Muluzi was once MCP’s secretary general. In that position he was the party’s second most influential man. After Kamuzu.

But when Muluzi was making that statement at a rally, he rightly expected that Malawians had forgotten all that. This was when he was campaigning for a third term or an open term. It flopped.

Muluzi eventually settled for Bingu wa Mutharika to succeed him. And not Justin Malewezi his vice-president for two terms. Muluzi’s third term bid flopped not because Malawians forgot anything.

But because they remembered that they had the Constitution which put a cap on presidential terms. They also remembered that Muluzi’s 10-year rule had failed to lift them out of abject poverty.

At the time Muluzi was campaigning for a third and open term as president, donors who were contributing 40 percent to the national budget had also abandoned the country.

But perhaps Muluzi was right after all. The famous or infamous Cashgate was first noted in 2005 although it was mostly exposed in 2013. This is according to a forensic audit of the government of Malawi by auditors-RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP of the United Kingdom (UK). By 2014, the malfeasance could no longer be swept under the carpet. Hard cash in millions of kwacha was being kept or transported in boots of cars. A help hand spotted one of them. This led to more ‘discoveries’.

The Baker Tilly forensic audit only picked six months of the 2009–2014 plunder-from April to September, 2013-and uncovered that during this period alone civil servants and businesspersons had looted MK24 billion from the public purse.

When Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kaluwa was vocal about seven ministers in the Peter Mutharika administration were alleged to have been mentioned in the MK236 billion Cashgate report,

the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) went for him. But no-one in this government wants to talk about that report.

The issue now seems to be water under the bridge. All attention is focused on the tripartite elections. With elections only seven months away, there must be a huge sigh of relief among the seven ministers alleged to have been mentioned in the report. Amalawi anaiwala. (Malawians forgot about the plunder of K236 billion spanning 2009 and 2014).

When the Salima South member of Parliament Uladi Mussa was acting People’s Party president, and was vocal against government, it (government) went for him over allegations that he issued permits or passports to undeserving immigrants. Now that he is politically correct after taking camouflage in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that case is dead. Amalawi anaiwala. The same Uladi Mussa who was being demonized while in opposition is now a hero in DPP as its vice president for the centre.

How Malawi lost K577 billion or K236 billion will never be concluded under this regime. It is a forgotten issue. It is only ‘petty’ bulawulas who have the cheek to talk about it. But these are the issues opposition politicians-MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera, United Transformation’s Movement’s Saulos Klaus Chilima, People’s Party JB, ought to be pushing.

At what stage is the forensic audit report (if any) about the whopping K236 billion looted from the public pulse between 2009 and 2014? Of course, there have been other Cashgates-the 4.3 million liters of fuel (of 76 tankers of 35 000 litres each)-vanishing at Escom, the audit report about materials worth over MK10 billion Escom procured which may never be used in the next 10 years. Billions of kwacha vanishing at the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).

Mystery still surrounds the MK1.9 billion of the MK2.9 billion that Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) board approved to give to Admarc for maize purchases in 2016.

Some 20 MPs embezzled Constituency Development Funds-what is the status of this issue; five years after government’s Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis) was hacked, improving public finance management remains a mirage as government is yet to procure a foolproof Ifmis.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)warehouse in Lilongwe gutted immediately after the court ruled that there should be a recount of votes is a forgotten issue.

Meanwhile, the country has plunged further on the corruption perception index. As a result of all these, donors are yet to return to Malawi as they strongly believe Account Number One is a leaking bucket. The ultra poor will continue to be marginalized. Why? Because they forgot why they are in this predicament. Muluzi was very right.Amalawi sachedwa kuyiwala.


Chilima off to Britain for Chatham House’s public talk on service and accountability in Malawi

Malawi’s Vice-President and leader of United Transformation Movement (UTM) Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima leaves for Britain on Sunday for a one week visit that will see him speak at the respected Chatham House – The Royal Institute of International Affairs – in London and attend a political summit at the House of Commons.

Special Assistant to the Vice President on economic affairs Milward Tobia said in a media statement on Saturday that Chilima’s visit to United Kingdom is for “a holiday and private engagements.”

He said Chilima will return to Malawi on October 21 2018.

However, a programme of events while in UK, Chilima  will speak at Chatham House in London on Wednesday October 17 and his talk will run between noon to 1pm (1pm to 2pm Malawi time).

Organisers of the talk at Chatham House said Vice President Chilima will discuss the formation of his new party UTM, and how to foster intra-party democracy.

“He will present its approach to poverty reduction, addressing economic instability, and challenges ahead of next year’s elections,” reads a brief from organisers.

According to the organisers, public concerns of periodic food shortages and power outages, together with continuing fiscal uncertainty amidst spiralling public debt, bring added significance to the electoral process and beyond and significant pressures on the next government.

Malawi will hold presidential, parliamentary and local ward elections on May 21 2019.

Chatham House pointed out that Chilima‘s decision to form UTM, as well as the return of former president Joyce Banda to mainstream politics, mean that with such issues at stake and political discourse dominated by allegations of corruption, Malawi’s leaders across the spectrum will need clear policy focus to address the country’s significant challenges and meet citizens’ needs.

While in the UK, Chilima is also scheduled to deliver a speech at a political summit on Thursday October 18 in the evening at the House of Commons, Grimond Room, Portcullis House in London.

“The summit will be looking at the narrow and broad concepts of political-will to act, and the public-will’s power to react, in the very context of an individual leader, or collective leadership actions in critical political decision-making in governance,” organisers said in a statement.

London Political Summit has created a special award African Peace Accord Award which will be given annually to any African leader who embraces peace, values democracy and exhibits high level of political maturity and tolerance.

Chilima has also been invited to attend a political awards gala on Friday October 19, 2018 at London Metropolitan University.

The awardees will go through strict criteria and vetting. Some of the criteria used will be political tolerance, people-oriented leadership, political accountability and political morality among other vital issues in governance.

The first recipient of the award will be Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta following their Peace Accord Handshake which ended political acrimony and intolerance after Kenya’s election in 2017 which had threatened to divide the country and increase of violence.


Malawi former first gentleman Richard Banda honored; JB excited

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)- The former president Joyce Banda on Friday expressed gratitude following her husband retired Chief Justice Richard Banda recognition in Malawi’s Judiciary

The Judiciary honoured the former first gentleman Richard Banda together with other retired Chief Justices Leonard Unyolo, the late Friday Makuta and the late Justice Lewis Chatsika, by naming some of its court sessions after them in recognition of their distinguished service to the in different capacities of the legal sector.

They were honoured in Blantyre during a Sherry party – a celebration marking the opening of the Judiciary’s legal year.

The former president graced the event which was president by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda when she accompanied her husband.

In her statement, she said it was “one of the happiest days of our lives” to get the honour for Richard Banda.

“I thank God for the honor bestowed upon him and I will forever praise the Lord for the privilege to have Richard Banda as my husband, anchor, best friend and my cheerleader on our extraordinary journey of 35 years,” said the first woman president in Malawi.

The former president recalls that Richard Banda was called to the bar in 1966 as a barrister at the Greys Inn in the UK.

He was Malawi’s first Malawian Attorney General, Minister of Justice, before that he served as Director of Public Prosecution. In 1980 he was appointed Judge and in 1992 he was appointed Malawi’s Chief Justice, she pointed out.

After serving in this capacity for ten years, he retired in 2002. He was also appointed as a bencher of Grey’s Inn.

Between 2003/ 2009 he served as Supreme Court Judge and Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Swaziland.

He retired in November 2009 on medical grounds, she added about the fact file of the former chief judge.

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Leg amputation helps reconcile estranged ‘white hunter’ couple

By Yusuf K. Dawood
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This story about a white hunter will take us back a few years when they thrived. This species is now extinct.

I suppose the term ‘White Hunter’ was devised because most, if not all, were Caucasians and they arranged trips for rich and famous Americans and Europeans to legally hunt wild animals in designated areas.

The tourists hung the heads and skins of the hunted elephant, lion or ‘rhino’ in their lounge back home as memento of their visit to Africa and brag to their guests about it.

One afternoon, Mr Saunders, a white hunter, arrived on a stretcher in the casualty department of the hospital in which I had an office, with a note from his doctor addressed to me.

The Casualty Officer called me and I complied with his request to go and see the patient immediately.

“It is not a dire emergency but from what I can see the man has a gangrenous leg.” He added a rider to his request.

On arrival in the Casualty, after greeting the patient, the doctor and sister in charge, I eagerly read the note from Dr Bosire to obtain the necessary information about her patient and also her notes were interesting, with a few literary gems thrown in.

THE FLESH IS WEAK

On Saunders, the note said: ‘Herewith, Mr Saunders, my patient for 25 years and a heavy smoker with dry gangrene of his left leg. I have been periodically seeing him with intermittent claudication for the past five years and, going by his heavy smoking and ethnicity, diagnosed him as a case of Buerger’s Disease.

I ordered an aortogram which confirmed spasm of the arteries of lower limbs which were clogged by thrombi.’

I was looking for a literary quote but it came in the next paragraph which said: ‘I exhorted him to stop smoking and assured him that the disease is reversible even in late stages, as it was in his case. Unfortunately, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak and the disease has relentlessly marched to its conclusion. Over to you,’ it concluded.

To explain the technical terms used by Dr Bosire, ‘intermittent claudication’ means pain in the calf muscles on walking, which subsides with rest but resumes on walking again.

Aortogram is an image of the aorta, the main large artery in the body. The other name for Buerger’s is thrombo-angiitis obliterans, which describes the pathology more vividly.

Smoking causes inflammation of the arterial wall which is followed by formation of tiny clots which in turn obliterate the artery, causing intermittent claudication to start with and eventually lead to gangrene due to less blood flow to the limbs.

Having read the doctor’s note, I embarked on my history taking, assessing the patient as I was doing so.

He was tall and I put him at six foot plus.

His complexion was ruddy and his face was deeply wrinkled, betraying the outdoor life he led in our hot sun, as demanded by his job. He wore a safari suit with half sleeves which came down his long shirt sleeves in cheque material.

He sat on the couch with his matching shorts, exposing both his legs, one looking relatively normal and the other one showing dry gangrene up to the middle of the leg.

The yellow stains on his fingers and his rotten teeth confirmed that he was a chain smoker as mentioned by his doctor. I suspected that he was also an alcoholic from his bibulous breath. His medical history corroborated what D. Bosire had written in her note.

It was when he talked about his work when I learnt interesting things about a white hunter’s life.

“My job entails taking tourists on a hunting safari. We travel in a Land Rover and pitch tents when we reach the designated area, teeming with wildlife including the Big Five. Late in the evenings, we have a barbecue under a clear African sky. Booze, smoke and sex come easily and in abundance in my job and I indulged in excess of all the perks attached to the job.”

“Did you do any work?” I asked.

To which he replied. “Yes. Early in the morning, I would take my clients in a Land Rover looking for lion, elephant or rhino. Some days we returned empty-handed; on other days we bagged enough trophies to satisfy the customer.”

Saying that, by dint of habit, Mr Saunders brought out a packet of cigarettes from the bulging pocket of his safari suit, but looking at my reproaching face, he changed his mind and returned it to the same pocket.

Having obtained the medical history, I examined Mr Saunders, especially both his legs, the “normal” one first, in accordance with my teaching to my students.

The right leg was relatively cold, coppery in colour, with touch, temperature and pain sensations impaired. When I squeezed his calf muscles, he complained of pain. All the pulses in that lower limb were feeble.

Then, I turned my attention to the left leg, which was obviously gangrenous. It was dry gangrene; the term denoted no infection in contrast to moist gangrene found in diabetics, which is infected and emits a foul smell.

It is believed that the sweet blood of diabetics attracts bugs. I looked at Mr Saunders and, before giving him a shock about amputation, I asked: “Is anybody with you?”

In reply he poured his heart out. “I have no blood relatives here.” Then he elaborated.

“Once upon a time, I had a wife but looking at my job and perks, she soon realised that she was superfluous in my life and returned to her parents in Devon, England. There were no recriminations, no divorce and no ill feelings. We still kept in touch, exchanging birthday and Christmas greetings. If I give up my job as a white hunter, she will be back here in a jiffy.”

NEXT OF KIN

“Can you get her here to support you during surgery?” I asked.

“How can I ask her after the shabby treatment I have meted out to her?” He posed a rhetoric question. “Anyway, what surgery do you intend to carry out on me?”

“That leg needs to come off.” I replied. “It is useless and dangerous and I am scheduling the amputation tomorrow morning.”

As I drove home that evening, the case of Mr Saunders haunted me like a ghost in the night until I made a decision to shake it off.

Next morning, I went to the ward where Mr Saunders was lodging. I just caught him in time for he was already on a stretcher and going to the theatre in the company of a ward nurse and theatre orderly who had come to fetch him.

I took Mr Saunder’s file from the nurse and opened it. I was glad that my hunch had been proven correct. In the “next of kin” column was the name of Mrs Saunders with her UK phone number. I made a note of it.

As soon as I reached the surgeon’ changing room, before undressing, I asked the hospital telephone operator to get me that number.

There were no mobiles in those days and knowing that the hospital was very strict on overseas calls because of the escalating monthly telephone bills, I added. “This is an urgent call and if there is any query, I will pay.”

I waited for the call while I was changing. When it did come, it was Mrs Saunders’ mother who answered the phone but she put her daughter on the phone when I told her: “This is a surgeon from Nairobi and I want to talk to your daughter about her husband.”

Fearing the worst, she immediately called her daughter to the phone. After exchanging polite greetings with her, I informed her.

“I am speaking from the changing room in the operating theatre and I’m scheduled to amputate the gangrenous leg of your husband.”

I then softened my brutally stark announcement. “As a surgeon and a human being, I know that this is the time when a person needs family support, because amputation of a limb is a shattering blow to any man; It is like a woman losing her breast.”

Mrs Saunders wanted more details from me but to spare the impact of my statement from dilution, I said. “I must rush because everybody in the hospital knows what a punctual surgeon I am and my anaesthetist starts inducing anaesthesia once she knows that I am in the changing room.”

Two days later, I saw the result of my daring adventure into the family life of my patient.

When I went to see Mr Saunders, two days after his amputation, the ward sister told me that Mrs Saunders had flown from England to see her husband and was waiting in her office to see me when I finished the ward round.

I couldn’t wait to meet her and said to Sister. “I will see her before I start,” I said.

She escorted me to her office where I met Mrs Saunders. “It was kind of you to inform me about my husband,” she said.

“I am glad you flew to see him because he was missing you,” I replied. “How long are you here?”

“I am here for good.” As she saw my stunned face, she elaborated. “My husband and I had a long chat. He does not think he can go to his old job after an amputation and since that was the only bone of contention between us, we have decided to reconcile.”

Then she sighed and added: “We are both sorry that we have lost our golden years. We are a pair of burnt-out cases.”