01/04/2019. It’s no secret that the level of education in Madagascar is gradually falling. In spite of the efforts made by parents to send their children to school, the country has a very big thorn in its side, which has been getting infected since 1975: there are fewer and fewer teachers on the Big Island. To make up for this lack, parents have decided to recruit teachers that they themselves pay very low prices in general: the FRAM teachers. Today, there are 75,000 teachers in rather precarious working conditions, yet the level of Malagasy national education does not seem to be changing at all. So, are FRAM teachers really the right solution to advance our children’s education? To clear up this vagueness that has remained unclear for nearly 45 years, we at Stileex Post have combed every neighbourhood of Antananarivo to get the opinion of the Tananarivian population on FRAM teachers.
We would like to thank the 907 people in the different sectors of Antananarivo who voluntarily answered our questions during the investigation.
The Tananarivians don’t really know the FRAM masters
In the field surveys, we were careful to balance gender, socio-professional categories and age groups with a minimum age of 18. The result was quite surprising. Indeed, 59% of Tananarivians know what a FRAM master is. Therefore, there are still 41% who still do not know the role of these teachers. Apparently, this percentage is still too high. So, to give a little boost to Malagasy teaching, we are going to (re)discover together what a FRAM master is.
First of all, FRAM is the acronym for Fikambanan’ny Ray aman-dRenin’ny Mpianatra, or literally the parents’ association. Since the abundance of public primary schools in Madagascar, and the state was no longer able to respond to the needs of parents, this association was forced to recruit the teachers who would take care of their children, even if the children had no training in pedagogy. That was the origin of the FRAM teacher.
Fortunately, a majority (53%) know that it is the parents of the students themselves who pay the FRAM teachers throughout the country. It is also sad, but according to documents, only 2 out of 10 parent-teachers have attended training in national institutes, namely the INFP (Institut National de Formation Pédagogique). A FRAM teacher currently receives a modest bi-monthly salary of 220,000 Ariary on average.
Is the subject of FRAM masters taboo?
Throughout the investigation, we noticed that a large part of the population of Antananarivo did not like to talk too much about FRAM and everything related to it. I agree, the subject of national education is always quite “sulphurous”, but far from being forbidden. We think that the subject of FRAM teachers is not at all taboo, yet on average 40% of Tananarivians refused to answer some of our questions, including whether or not Madagascans needed FRAM teachers. They also left out other questions about the working conditions of these parent teachers, and of course whether they should be taken on as civil servants.
The people of Antananarivo are very divided
To need or not to need FRAM masters, the Tananarivians are divided at 50%. Of course, there are those who approve of the need for these parent-teachers, but there are those on the other side who consider it unnecessary to recruit them. For several years now, the parents of pupils in public primary schools have relied on FRAM teachers; parents who do not really have the means have become totally dependent on them. On the other hand, the other half is more concerned about the quality of teaching, but also about the skills and experience of these FRAM teachers, hence the great impact.
Working conditions are difficult
As we have already discussed in one of our previous articles on parents and school in Madagascar, the conditions for enrolling a child are very important, and the working conditions of FRAM teachers as well as their experience and skills have a great place in the choice of school. According to the general opinion of the respondents, the working conditions are difficult. See for yourself:
- easy: 6%
- fairly easy: 2%
- normal: 20%
- rather difficult: 2%
- difficult: 26%
- I don’t know them: 3%
Parents and FRAM teachers: diplomacy or hypocrisy?
Wanting to confirm the veracity of the enthusiasm shown by these Tananarivians towards supporting the evolution they bring to education in general, we were surprised to see that only 10% of the respondents would accept to become FRAM teachers, while 49% simply refused. The other 41% did not respond.
Today, many FRAM masters are still struggling with the state to get a civil service position. Indeed, 30% of people are certain that FRAM masters deserve their place as civil servants, even though 28% think otherwise, but they say so diplomatically.
Anyway, we still have a long way to go!
In the course of the investigation to arrive at this article, we realized not only that the majority of the citizens of the capital of Madagascar do not even care about FRAM teachers and their roles, but also that almost half of those who know them do not want to become parent-teachers. The very low salary, the difficult working conditions or the lack of training in the field are the main reasons for the Tananarivians.
In any case, even if the opinion of the Tananarivians is very divided on the usefulness of FRAM teachers, there are still citizens who care about the future of Malagasy children and agree to work with the parents’ association as well as the local authorities. If there is still a long way to go for national education, just a small participation from everyone to support the children’s education can already be considered a great success, or at least a good start. It is in the hands of the parents, the educator and of course the Malagasy State.